As coronavirus infections and deaths spike in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, this morning, we petitioned the High Court together with five Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations, demanding Israel immediately secure a uniform supply of vaccines to the Palestinian population.
More than five million people have been successfully vaccinated in Israel, while the West Bank and Gaza Strip experience record-breaking numbers of infections and deaths, with 25 deaths per day and a positivity rate of about 30%. The COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge for any healthcare system, including in the developed world. It is especially challenging for the Palestinian economy and health care system, already stifled by longstanding Israeli-imposed restrictions.
Refraining from vaccinating Palestinians is also epidemiologically unsound. Israelis and Palestinians come into contact daily for commercial needs, family affairs and humanitarian reasons. All of this makes Israel, East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip a single epidemiological unit in terms of the pandemic’s spread, even apart from its global effect, which demands global cooperation.
Ensuring Palestinians receive vaccinations is more than just a gesture of goodwill on Israel’s part. Israel carries legal, moral and ethical obligations as a result of its continuing occupation and control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. These obligations are enshrined in international law and in the jurisprudence of the Israeli courts.