Israel received millions of COVID-19 doses in January, but has thus far only vaccinated Israelis, including the squatters living illegally on Palestinian land (those falsely labelled “settlers”). The Israeli regime has refused to vaccinate Palestinians, and only began vaccinating medical personnel after international protest. The general population of five million Palestinians are being denied vaccination. They are being told they will have to wait months, which could kill thousands – IF they receive it at all, because much of the world is turning a blind eye to the situation.
Israel is celebrating an impressive, record-setting vaccination drive, having given initial jabs of coronavirus shots to more than a 10th of the population. But Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza can only watch and wait.
As the world ramps up what is already on track to become a highly unequal vaccination push – with people in richer nations first to be inoculated – the situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories provides a stark example of the divide.
Israel transports batches of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine deep inside the West Bank. But they are only distributed to Jewish settlers, and not the roughly 2.7 million Palestinians living around them who may have to wait for weeks or months.
“I don’t know how, but there must be a way to make us a priority, too?” said Mahmoud Kilani, a 31-year-old sports coach from the Palestinian city of Nablus. “Who cares about us? I don’t think anybody is stuck on that question.”
Israel claims it is “not their responsibility to vaccinate the Palestinians” despite international law saying otherwise. From Amnesty International:
The Israeli government must stop ignoring its international obligations as an occupying power and immediately act to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are equally and fairly provided to Palestinians living under its occupation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, said Amnesty International today.
On 23 December, the Israeli Health Ministry began the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Having already given initial jabs to more than a 10th of its population, Israel has been hailed as the country that has to date achieved the widest vaccination coverage in proportion to its population size. However, the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out plan so far covers only citizens of Israel, including Israeli settlers living inside the West Bank, and Palestinian residents of Jerusalem. It excludes the nearly 5 million Palestinians who live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, under Israeli military occupation.
Israel’s refusal to vaccinate Palestinians is now being weaponized to engage in another form of discrimination: medical apartheid. Anyone who doesn’t have proof of a “green pass” (a verified COVID-19 vaccination) will be barred from many places and buildings. And since it’s only the Palestinians who aren’t being vaccinated, they’re the only ones who will be denied access to many other places. Don’t be surprised if this is used as a pretext to close down mosques.
People with the so-called “Green Pass” will get access to gyms, hotels and theatres, as more than 46 percent of its 9 million population get vaccinated.
Israel reopened swathes of its economy including malls and leisure facilities on Sunday, with the government saying the start of a return to routine was enabled by Covid-19 vaccines administered to almost half the population.
Shops were open to all, but access to gyms, hotels and theatres was limited to people with a “Green Pass”: those who have had both doses of the vaccine more than a week prior, or recovered from the disease with presumed immunity.
Pass-holders could prove their status by presenting a vaccination certificate or downloading a health ministry app linked to their medical files.
I’ll probably be accused of “anti-semitism” again for posting this.