While Israel has sprinted ahead in vaccinating its citizens against coronavirus, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have yet to begin a widespread immunization campaign. Israel is reportedly paying around 1 billion NIS ($305 million) to receive the vaccine, far more than the Palestinians have indicated they can afford to pay.
Human rights groups have called for Israel to provide vaccines to the Palestinians, who live under Israeli military rule.
“Nothing can justify today’s reality in parts of the West Bank, where people on one side of the street are receiving vaccines, while those on the other do not, based on whether they’re Jewish or Palestinian,” said Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch.
If Palestinians can pay for slay giving money to terrorists who murdered Israelis as monthly salaries, they can also find a way to get their own vaccines. Needless to say that according to the Oslo accords the PA is responsible for all of the health issues that Palestinians face@SSI_Movement on Twitter
Israeli officials have responded that the Palestinians are responsible for vaccinating their own people according to bilateral agreements between the two sides, although some have said that Israel will consider providing immunizations once all Israelis are vaccinated.
On 22 December, 10 human rights and health organizations issued a statement calling on Israel to ensure that its vaccination campaign includes Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.The Israeli government must uphold its obligations as the occupying power, under international humanitarian law and human rights law, to provide the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health to the population of the OPT without discrimination. To date, this has not occurred.
[In December] Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu got the symbolic first shot. But next door in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the prospects for vaccinating almost 5 million Palestinians are far less certain, as financial, political and logistical hurdles could delay inoculations against the raging pandemic for months.
The split highlights not only the tense disparities between Israel and the Palestinian populations it effectively controls, but also the growing divergence between vaccine haves and have-nots as the world enters the pandemic endgame.
But poorer populations could be waiting much longer. Internal World Health Organization documents leaked this past week warned that vaccines might not reach some countries until 2024, a delay that could hamper global efforts to contain the virus.
“Nobody is safe until everyone is safe,” said Gerald Rockenschaub, the WHO chief for the Palestinian territories. “It’s in everyone’s interest to ensure that countries that can’t purchase vaccines on the global marketplace have their needs met adequately.”