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Human rights organizations to the Health and Defense Ministries: Israel carries a heightened legal duty and a weighty humanitarian responsibility to ensure the provision of Coronavirus vaccines to the Palestinian population of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip

On January 25 and February 25, 2021, human rights organizations – Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, HaMoked, Gisha, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Adalah and Rabbis for Human Rights – sent urgent letters to the Minister of Defense, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, and the Executive Director of the Ministry of Health, concerning Israel’s responsibility to ensure Coronavirus vaccines for the population of the oPt, both in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, especially at-risk populations, including medical staff, the elderly and sick.

The organizations wrote that under the current circumstances – when the vaccination of the Israeli population continues in full swing, while the population of the oPt, especially vulnerable demographics, such as the elderly and ill, are largely without vaccines – Israel has the legal, moral and medical obligation to provide vaccines for the Palestinian residents of the oPt. This, under international law – as detailed at length in the first letter – and in view of the fact that Israel is the occupying power in the West Bank and the force controlling the border crossings of the Gaza Strip, and wields enormous influence on all aspects of life in the oPt.

The organizations further noted that the supply of vaccines to the Palestinian population is not a question of goodwill, to be carried out as a mere token gesture; it is a substantive obligation of the State of Israel, in line with the state’s legal and ethical commitments as well as public health considerations. (02) 627 1698   (02) 627 6317

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