Combatants for Peace, an Israeli-Palestinian NGO, has written to World Health Organisation (WHO) head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, asking him to make sure the Israeli government does not block the supply of COVID-19 vaccines to Palestine any longer.
Ever since Israel began its vaccination drive, it has kept Palestinians out of the process almost entirely. Even within Combatants for Peace, the letter to Ghebreyesus says, Israeli members have all been vaccinated while Palestinian members wait endlessly. Nearly five million Palestinians live in Gaza and the West Bank.
In the letter, the activists say that Israel is not following obligations under international law. “Despite Israel’s successful roll-out of its vaccination program against COVID-19, which in the recent days began to include any Israeli citizen above the age of 16 – including Israeli settlers that lives illegally in the West Bank – until now the Israeli government agreed to transfer to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank only a few thousand vaccines, predominantly for health workers,” it reads.
Israel has the means to vaccinate Palestinians as well, but is choosing not to do so, the letter continues. “Also, it is absolutely clear that the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank or the Hamas organisation in the Gaza Strip do not have the political and economic bargaining power to compete in the global vaccine market. As is well known, there are even EU countries that complain about the rate of vaccines delivery to their own citizens.”
The Israeli government is denying Palestinians the vaccine for purely political reasons, the activists state. “The State of Israel is in the midst of an election campaign, and there is strong opposition in the electorate of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the right-wing parties to any minimal humanitarian and human gesture to the Palestinians.”
The WHO needs to intervene, the letter says, against the “discriminatory, illegal and immoral policies” of the Israeli government.
Source: This article first appeared in The Wire.