It’s Hard to Tell

… What is going on with COVID-19 in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, but it appears that Israel is allowing the people there to act as a hot-house reservoir of virus.

There’s a lot of news about how Israel has a very high vaccination rate (55.3%) and has a tremendous drop-off in terms of infections, but the vaccination policy applies to official Israel, only, not occupied territories. And, it appears that Palestinians who have work in Jerusalem and come through the wall/security, are given access to shots, in order to protect the population beyond the wall. [wapo]

Israel has so far immunized the largest number of people per capita. As of April 19, nearly 60 percent of Israelis had received at least one dose and nearly 58 percent were fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data. Though Israel was later than some countries to sign vaccine deals, it offered to pay premium prices and give drug companies access to its health-care data. The country reportedly spent $788 million on coronavirus vaccines by March, most notably on a large shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech’s RNA vaccine. While Israel has been criticized for neglecting the Palestinian population in its midst, its vaccination campaign has otherwise been deemed a success and has allowed the return of a more normal way of life, including the lifting of outdoor mask requirements.

[my emphasis]

Israel is an occupying power, and completely controls the Palestinian population in its midst. If it’s only giving vaccine to the ones that are providing service – that’s unspeakable. Basically, it’s the same monstrous shit that the US government pulled with leaving the prison population largely unvaccinated (including shuffling prisoners around to make sure the virus spread) while innoculating the prison guards.

The reporting is consistently applauding Israel, e.g.: [wapo]  which goes on at length about how great Israeli public health is, right now, and has one line at the bottom:

(In Palestinian territories captured by Israel in the 1967 war, the vast majority of the population has yet to be inoculated, and Israel has faced criticism at home and abroad for not providing more vaccines.)

Fucking ethno-nationalism. I wonder if the Chinese government used COVID-19 to thin down the population in their Uighur concentration camps, too?

The Guardian: [guard]

Instead of vaccinating Palestinians, Benjamin Netanyahu tried to send thousands of doses around the world as rewards to countries that moved their embassies to Jerusalem

Ah, “vaccine diplomacy”.

The US media has widely lauded Israel’s vaccine success – as a country in a “post-pandemic future” of concerts and indoor dining; as a country that could teach the United States a few lessons in pandemic management; as a country that, despite being in the midst of a contentious election, leaned on its robust universal public health system to vaccinate as many people as possible. However, many of these vaccine success stories mention the issue of Palestinian vaccines in passing, as an unresolved “controversy,” “debate,” or just another instance of Palestinians and Israelis being unable to agree on anything.

The difference couldn’t be more stark – two populations living under one regime, heading in opposite directions in the struggle with Covid-19. On the Israeli side, we see a country returning to normalcy: a re-opened economy; a vaccination certificate program that allows for entry into gyms, restaurants, and cultural venues; plummeting infection and hospitalization rates; a surplus of vaccines nearly seven times the small country’s population. On the Palestinian side, minimal vaccines, overwhelmed hospitals, and an economy in crisis. Including the 100,000 Palestinian workers with Israeli work permits that Israel finally agreed to vaccinate in March, Palestinians have received enough vaccines for just over 4% of the 5 million Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Humans really are shit.

ICE in the US appears to have been negligent as a matter of unofficial policy, and allowed its detention centers to turn into virus reservoirs: [nyt]

Our analysis compared estimated infection rates in ICE detention centers with infection rates in prisons and in the general population. As Covid-19 cases rose last June, ICE detention facilities had an average infection rate five times that of prisons and 20 times that of the general population.


  1. bodach says

    Damn, son. Thanks for the reminder that people in power can be shit. On the other hand, I really enjoy your blog.

  2. Prax says

    Israel has so far immunized the largest number of people per capita.

    Or, rewritten for accuracy:

    “Israel has so far immunized a fairly unremarkable number of people per capita, but the vaccination rate looks much more impressive when we don’t have to count Palestinians as ‘people.'”

    Apartheid societies often have great quality of life! For the ruling caste.

    As Covid-19 cases rose last June, ICE detention facilities had an average infection rate five times that of prisons and 20 times that of the general population.

    And Jesus, look at our prison rate. These are people on whom we spend vast sums of money, in order to isolate them and control their behavior; if it was a priority, they’d have the lowest infection rates in the US. Then we’d have to treat prisons as something other than a combination torture chamber and labor camp, though.

  3. jrkrideau says

    Not about Israel/Palestine but an Indian blogger (former ambassador) in the course of commenting on the proposed quasi-withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan is wondering if the US is doing some blackmail of India in return for the US relaxing its embargo on vaccine raw materials.

    The big question is whether the US is relenting on the vaccine front with a view to cut a deal with India on Afghanistan.

  4. Jazzlet says

    Quite apart from the cruelty involved the Israeli policy with regard to the Palestinians, and the US policy with regard to immigrants in ICE detention and prisoners, is just fucking stupid. It’s a fine way to guarantee more mutations with no way of being sure that your precious vaccinated population witll be immune to the new variants.

  5. komarov says

    “Mutations” is exactly what I was thinking, too. Yet the only consistent resistance I’ve seen over the past year plus is an unbreakable resistance to learning, particularly among the political leadership.
    Anyone who has ever sat through a biology class must have wondered about the possibility of new variants cropping up. You don’t have to be a medical expert to get that idea, but the powers that be not only didn’t think about it, they also ignored all the expert advice. For an example, see Boris “Herd Immunity” Johnson, who arguably is the reason why the “British Variant” is a thing.
    There’s also the stunning inability to learn from the first wave, which is why most countries are now talking about a third wave. Well done, idiots. It’s not so much the virus in resurgence as it is bad policy. “Oh, the numbers are down. Open everything up! Hwhat?! Numbers are up? But how? *prolonged hand-wringing* Maybe if we took up harsher measures again?” Rinse, repeat.
    Had people actually learned something the first mention of a new variant spreading should have been treated as an entirely new pandemic and responded to with the combined experience from the first wave. Didn’t happen. So now we’re at a point where we’ll soon have difficulty just remembering all the different variant names, where vaccines partially or universally stop working and where we’re still making all the same rookie mistakes. That most certainly includes allowing a virus to linger in a population, allowing it to evolve new tricks.

    Humans are idiots.

    And yes, all that is “quite apart from the cruelty involved in Israeli policy.”

    Humans are awful idiots.

  6. says

    “Mutations” is exactly what I was thinking, too.

    Someone on TWIV said “we’re going to have some fascinating research about hot to turn a pandemic in to an endemic virus.”
    Sums it up. It’s going to be “just another flu” except way worse. And none of it had to happen.

  7. birgerjohansson says

    The fast-spreading British variant evolved precisely because prime minister Boris “The Joker” Johnson used the population as a giant Petri disc without taking effective measures.

  8. says

    The fast-spreading British variant evolved precisely because prime minister Boris “The Joker” Johnson used the population as a giant Petri disc without taking effective measures.

    Remember that Larry Niven/Jerry Pournelle book, which had the tag line “think of it as evolution in action”?
    At least scientists are going to learn a lot from this. Politicians and sufferers from toxic individualism: not so much.

  9. says

    Ian King@#7:
    I would sincerely love to see any nation with the balls to relocate their embassy to the west bank.

    That would be some great trolling. Or, if the Russians or Chinese or someone smuggled in a ton of doses of vaccine. But. at this point neither of those would work – the Israeli strategy of breaking the land up into controllable “islands” prevents outsiders from intervening in their open-air prison camp.

  10. says

    Don’t forget the “passports”, documentation of who has and hasn’t been vaccinated. Those without one are restricted in their movements, just like Black South Africans under apartheid.

  11. says

    You rang?
    Palestinians will receive Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine on Thursday, minister says

    That’s excellent news!

    When the Russians and Chinese are being the moral exemplars, I think we’ve got a problem, Houston.

Leave a Reply