Human rights groups call on ‘Israel’ to provide vaccines to Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza

Six Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations petitioned the High Court of Justice to demand that ‘Israel’ take immediate steps to ensure regular supply of vaccines to the Palestinian population under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza.

In a petition submitted on Thursday by attorney Adi Lustigman, the NGOs also demanded that the occupation state transfer its surplus vaccines to Palestinians immediately.

“Evidently, the Palestinian Authority has an insufficient number of vaccines, whereas in what is practically the same area, the population of Israeli citizens and residents is almost fully vaccinated, apart from those who decline it,” the NGOs stated in the petition.

The NGOs signed onto the petition are: Physicians for Human Rights Israel; HaMoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual; Al Mezan Center for Human Rights; Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement; Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel; and Rabbis for Human Rights.

According to the NGOs, the Palestinian Authority can only vaccinate 1.5% of its population.

“The respondents’ current policy and their failure to ensure that the entire population is vaccinated violates Palestinian inhabitants’ basic rights to life and bodily integrity, and represents an ongoing injustice,” the NGOs stated in the petition.

The NGOs emphasized that ‘Israel’ has legal, moral and ethical obligations towards the Palestinians, deriving from its occupation and ongoing control of Gaza and the West Bank.

“This situation cannot be justified in any way, and it violates both binding Israeli and international law as well as medical ethics, morality, and sheer humanity,” it added.

“The Oslo Accords, to the extent that they are at all relevant, do not and cannot revoke the authority of the applicable laws, which require Israel to act to vaccinate the Palestinian population,” the NGOs stated.

According to recent data presented in the petition, the rates of COVID-19 mortality in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza have reached a new peak, with 27 fatalities a day, and the percentage of positive tests stands at 20%.

Palestinian hospitals in the West Bank are filled to capacity, and some of them have stopped admitting cancer patients from the Gaza Strip who require urgent and lifesaving treatments.

Together, the number of fatalities in the West Bank and Gaza exceeds 2,708, with a mortality rate of 1.1% of confirmed cases, a high rate compared to the occupation state, the petition said.

The total supply of vaccines available in the occupied Palestinian territory so far numbers about 135,000 doses, enough for only 67,500 people, less than 1.5% of the population in the West Bank and Gaza, and not enough to provide for all at-risk groups, including the elderly and immunocompromised.

The organizations also argued that excluding Palestinians from Israel’s vaccination drive makes little epidemiological sense.

(Source / 25.03.2021)

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