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Israel rejects WHO’s request to provide Palestine medics covid vaccines

January 11, 2021 at 2:52 pm

A health worker prepares a dose of Covid-19 vaccine in Tel Aviv on 23 December 2020 [Nir Keidar/Anadolu Agency]

Israel rejected the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) informal request to immediately provide Palestinian medical staff COVID-19 vaccinations.

The country has been widely criticised for intentionally barring Palestinians from getting vaccinated in the middle of a pandemic, as it is obligated to do under international law as an occupying power.

Last week, Amnesty International called on Israel to start providing coronavirus vaccine doses to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

The international organisation called on Israel to “stop ignoring its international obligations as an occupying power and immediately act to ensure that Covid-19 vaccines are equally and fairly provided to Palestinians living under its occupation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”

Israel’s vaccination programme includes Palestinians with Israeli citizenship and Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem.

READ: PA says vaccines could come in March, accuses Israel of shirking duty to supply them

In the occupied West Bank, it has given vaccines only to Jewish settlers living in illegal settlements, but not to Palestinians.

According to Palestinian Health Minister Mai Al-Kaila, 12 people have died of coronavirus in Palestine in the past 24 hours, with 928 new cases recorded in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. There are currently 95 coronavirus patients hospitalised and in a serious condition; 21 are on ventilators.

Gerald Rockenschaub, the head of the WHO’s mission to the Palestinians, told the Independent the UN body had requested that Israel help provide COVID-19 jabs to cover Palestinian health workers; nearly 8,000 Palestinian medics have reportedly been infected by the virus, impacting their coronavirus response.

He said that Israel had declined the request for now, citing issues with shortages for its own population. The country has been widely praised for its swift vaccine rollout.