Sheer inhumanity

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In a move that reeks of cruelty, Israel has turned down a request by the World Health Organisation and other rights groups to provide the coronavirus vaccine for Palestinian medics. The head of the WHO’s mission to the Palestinians last week told a British paper that the body had requested Israel’s help in providing Covid-19 vaccines for Palestininan health workers, 8,000 of whom have reportedly been infected by the virus. Unfortunately, Israel declined the request citing “shortages” — a decision that will push Palestinians into further turmoil as they grapple with an already overburdened healthcare system. Prior to the WHO plea, Amnesty International, too, had called on Israel to provide the vaccines in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, saying that the Jewish state was obligated to do so under international law. The group said Israel needed to 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”.
That these requests have either been ignored or denied by Israel points to the occupying power’s sheer inhumanity when it comes to Palestinians, as well as an utter lack of respect for their own obligations. Already pressed due to an ongoing blockade in place since 2007, Palestinian healthcare personnel are struggling far more than many others in this pandemic. The blockade includes prohibitions on “dual use materials” that may be used for both civilian and military purposes. However, the denial of items not connected to security has had an enormously negative impact on the health of residents in Gaza. Authorities in Palestine have acknowledged their limited capacity to contain the spread of coronavirus due to a shortage of medical equipment, a scenario which is almost unimaginable given how poorly even the sophisticated healthcare systems in Europe have fared when faced with a high incidence of Covid-19 cases.
In this situation, it is deeply disappointing and criminally negligent of Israeli authorities to deny the Palestinians help on the vaccination drive. Their position is especially inhumane given that news reports have named Israel as being the country with the fastest vaccine rollout programme, with over 12pc of their population already vaccinated. As Israel celebrates this milestone, it is clear that it values the lives of Israeli citizens and Palestinian residents of Jerusalem far more than the nearly five million Palestinians who live under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.