Israel will start vaccinating all prisoners, including Palestinian detainees, from next week as part of its nationwide anti-Covid-19 programme, the Minister of Health has confirmed.
"We are adhering to all of the coronavirus committee's guidelines," said Yuli Edelstein during his visit to a vaccination centre in Ramla. "I'm not going to differentiate and check what vaccine was given to a guard or a prisoner."
This move comes despite Israel's Internal Security Minister Amir Ohana directing the authorities not to vaccinate Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. He asked health officials only to vaccinate prison staff.
However, according to the Jerusalem Post, the Health Ministry received a letter from President Reuven Rivlin, in which he criticised the plans to exclude Palestinian prisoners from the vaccination programme. This would violate Israel's democratic values, Rivlin insisted.
"This is a racist attitude by Ohana and against international norms and Israeli law itself," the head of the Palestinian Prisoners' Society (PPS), Qadura Fares, told Anadolu. "The judicial adviser of the Israeli government said that the authorities have to give the vaccinations to the prisoners."
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The PPS pointed out that the number of infected inmates in Ramon Prison in southern Israel has gone up to 31. The total number of infected inmates since the beginning of the pandemic is now 227.
The Society has sent letters to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the UN, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). "The WHO has said that prisoners have the right to be treated, and Israel should allow this right. But Israel does not care anymore," added Fares.
According to international law, as the occupying power, even the Palestinians in the occupied territories are Israel's responsibility as far as such health issues are concerned.