Israel paid a premium to secure early access to vaccines and their programme started last week. They are now world leaders in vaccination with around 20% of their population already immunised.
“Despite a prolonged military occupation, and as a result, a compromised health care system, a financial crisis, and a volatile political situation, the State of Palestine have been performing to its maximum capabilities to guarantee the right to health for its population, including with its recent efforts to purchase authorized vaccines for COVID-19. Yet, Israel has been adamant in refraining from fulfilling its responsibility as an occupying Power under international humanitarian law and human rights law. Israel has also hampered the work of the State of Palestine to manage the health crisis.”
While illegal colonial settlers who reside on stolen Palestinian land have access to vaccines, Palestinians in the West Bank, excluding occupied and annexed East Jerusalem, and the Gaza strip, stand defenceless as an occupied population in their ability to access any immunization for the virus. The same applies to Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem who have had their identity resident cards revoked by Israel. This has been called “medical apartheid”.
This briefing sets out Israel’s obligations under International Humanitarian Law and the Oslo Agreements:
The State of Palestine faces numerous challenges and has deep concerns for prisoners, citizens of the blockaded Gaza strip, refugees living in overcrowded camps and our stretched healthcare system.
The State of Palestine has an obligation to provide vaccines as best of its capabilities to its citizens; nonetheless, the State of Palestine remains under prolonged Israeli military occupation. Therefore the international community must hold Israel to account and urge Israel as an occupying Power to fulfil its obligations under international law and make vaccines available to the protected population as a whole and without discrimination.