Israel’s Health Ministry began the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines about 3 weeks ago and has been globally hailed for achieving the widest vaccination coverage in proportion to population size. However, on Wednesday, Amnesty International reported that Israel is refusing to administer the COVID vaccine to over 5 million Palestinians living, under Israeli military occupation, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In fact, Israel is vaccinating Israeli settlers living in illegally occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank but refusing to vaccinate the Palestinians also living in the West Bank. This, say Amnesty, “highlights the institutionalized discrimination that defines the Israeli government’s policy towards Palestinians”. Amnesty goes on to explain that Israeli occupation of Palestine and their decade long blockade on the Gaza Strip has severely hampered Gaza’s health care system, which was already unable to meet the needs of its population even before the COVID pandemic hit.
Shortly before Christmas, Amnesty signed a joint letter, along with B’Tselem (The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories), MedAct (a global medical rights charity) and several other organisations, calling on Israel to provide the necessary vaccines to the Palestinian health care systems. These calls have been ignored for almost 3 weeks now but, for some odd reason, the mainstream media have largely chosen to leave this little detail out while reporting on the progress of Israel’s vaccination program, why?
Today, the Independent have finally waded in with their article, describing how Israel has rebuffed a request from the World Health Organisation (WHO) that they provide vaccines to Palestinian frontline medics, thousands of whom have already been infected by the COVID virus, putting a significant strain on an already inadequate health system.
For some strange reason, mainstream newspapers and news channels like the BBC and Sky News have chosen to completely avoid the story for weeks. The BBC actually reported just a week ago that Israel was leading the “vaccine race”, having already inoculated 12% of its population, but they made no mention of the month long campaign by Amnesty (and other human rights groups) or the calls from the WHO, on Israel, to supply vaccines to Palestinians under Israeli occupation. Why? Is it no longer the job of news organisations to report the news or would they have us believe that the British news media are utterly incompetent in their reporting?
In the West Bank, we effectively have an indigenous, Muslim and Christian ethnic group of people effectively blockaded in, deprived of water, fuel and medication and under Israeli military occupation for decades. It seems clear now that Israel is taking full advantage of it’s position as an occupying force to further it’s agenda of removing Palestinians from the occupied territories and pushing deeper into Palestinian territories. All they have to do is deny access to the COVID vaccine and let it rip through the population, killing thousands of Palestinians as it goes.
Israel, God’s chosen people? Not sure what God would have to say about that!
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