While Israel has secured 8 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, for which its two million-strong Palestinian citizens are eligible, no provision has been made for the roughly 5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza who live under its military occupation.
Israel’s public security minister Amir Ohana, meanwhile, has directed the health ministry not to include so-called security prisoners – all of whom are Palestinian – to be included in the second priority group of inoculations.
This contradicts health ministry directives, which have deemed prisoners generally as at high risk of exposure. Security prisoners’ guards will still be vaccinated as part of the second phase of Israel’s rollout.
As the occupying power, Israel has a responsibility under international law, including article 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to ensure “public health and hygiene in the occupied territory.”
Article 56 makes “particular reference to the adoption and application of the prophylactic and preventive measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics.”
Israel is also reneging on its signed agreements and promises, specifically Article 17 of its 1995 interim agreement with the Palestine Liberation Organization.
That too calls explicitly for Israel to help the Palestinian Authority combat “epidemics and contagious diseases … [and] … develop methods for exchange of medical files and documents.”