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Israel only inoculates Jewish population against COVID-19

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
COVID-19 Vaccine. 20 March 2021 (AFP)

Israel has been boasting that its rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine has been the most successful in the world and that it has inoculated a higher percentage of its population than any other nation.

What Israel has kept quiet is that they're only counting their Jewish population; the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation have been purposely excluded from receiving the vaccine.

Currently, countries throughout the world are buying up stocks of the COVID-19 vaccine in order to inoculate their populations after a year of lockdowns and restrictions.

There are several vaccines being developed like the Sputnik vaccine collaboration under Russia or the Pfizer vaccine, which is the one that Israel has been buying up.

Israel made a deal for an undisclosed amount with Pfizer, which would also provide the pharmaceutical giant with data and health information about its population.

Israel began rolling out the vaccine, in December 2020, which requires that each person take two shots, three weeks apart. Israel, of course, never misses a chance to show off and Netanyahu has probably been boasting about how fast he was able to secure so many doses of the vaccine and administer them to his population.

The media has also been singing Israel's praises, citing it as an example of efficiency. The New York Times wrote that Israel has become a world leader in vaccinating against COVID-19, and it's true, if you look at the figures, Israel has a higher rate of inoculation than anyone else.

The problem is, those numbers are lying and do not include the 5 million Palestinians living under Israel's illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

Medical apartheid towards the Palestinian people

The Guardian first reported, on 3 January 2021, how Israel transports batches of the Pfizer vaccine deep into 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.

According to the BBC, Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, which is also under illegal occupation, are entitled to be vaccinated as they are considered residents; however Palestinians living in the West Bank or in Gaza, being illegally occupied by Israel, are not.

The only people in those areas that are entitled to be vaccinated are the Zionist settlers, who are living there illegally.

Israel's military occupation, its Zionist settlements, these are all illegal under international law, there are numerous UN Security Council resolutions, clearly and unequivocally stating that Israel must leave and that these settlements are illegal under international law.

Mateus Kenneth, a medic from Doctors Without Borders who works in the West Bank, also wrote in late February how he was shocked by Israel's cruelty, saying, "you are over 60 times more likely to have a vaccination in Israel than in Palestine". Kenneth goes on to say that “a few kilometers away in Israel all the vulnerable groups have been vaccinated and they are planning to move on to vaccinating healthy adults and youths who are less vulnerable, especially to severe complications. Here in the West Bank, there are around 10,000 doses which is enough for 5000 people to be vaccinated. In the hospital where I work, staff have been offered the vaccine but the available doses do not come close to covering the healthcare workers, let alone the elderly and people with medical conditions that make them susceptible to dying of COVID-19".

The United States Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders wrote a joint letter with other senators urging Secretary of State Blinken to pressure Israel to vaccinate Palestinians. In the letter it states that, "while the Oslo Accords give the Palestinian Authority considerable responsibility for the health care of Palestinians, the accords do not supersede Israel's responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention".

Which is absolutely correct, because you see this is what the Israelis are trying to argue, they are claiming that they have no legal obligation to vaccinate Palestinians, despite the fact that they're illegally occupying Palestinians; the Israelis claimed that under the Oslo Accords of 1995.

If you look at annex 3 article 17 it says "powers and responsibilities in the sphere of health in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will be transferred to the Palestinian side, including the health insurance system".

However, under Article 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, it says the "the occupying power", which is Israel in this case, "has the duty of ensuring and maintaining, with the cooperation of national and local authorities, the medical and hospital establishments and services, public health and hygiene in the occupied territory", with particular reference to the adoption and application of the prophylactic and preventative measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics.

It is important to note, however, that the Oslo Accords were a bilateral agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians.

The Geneva Convention is much larger and far older than that, it's a pillar of international law, so it's completely irrational and unreasonable to argue that the Oslo Accords somehow cancel out or supersede the Geneva Convention, which Israel and Palestine are both a party to.

Even if you want to take the Israeli argument at face value, how can you expect the Palestinians to be in charge of their own health affairs when Israel is occupying them? How are Palestinians expected to run an efficient healthcare system and build public health infrastructure when they are told what they can and can't import, when they are told, when and where they can go, when they don't even have a state, when they're living under a brutal Zionist occupation that denies them their basic human rights?

And, as if the occupation wasn't bad enough, every single time Israel viciously bombs Gaza it targets civilian and public health infrastructure.

Mr Gilad Erdan, who is Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, claims on Twitter that the Palestinian Authority is responsible for its own health affairs, and that Israel will facilitate their purchase of the Sputnik vaccine from Russia.

Why would Israel need to facilitate the Palestinian purchase of a vaccine, if Palestinians are responsible for their own health affairs? Quite a contradiction. And of course, even that turned out to be a lie, when Gaza tried to import vaccines from Russia, Israel blocked it, a shipment of a mere 1000 doses, which is barely enough for 500 people, was still blocked by Israel.

This is so emblematic of their wicked treatment of Palestinians. According to Al Jazeera, Israeli lawmakers were even debating whether to let in vaccines, out of fear that they would go to the Hamas leadership.

Why not just give all Palestinian civilians vaccines, then Tel Aviv wouldn’t have to worry about that happening? So Israel even waited three months, since December, they waited three months before giving vaccines to the 100,000 plus Palestinians, that it uses for cheap labor and who cross over into Israel every day.

Israel still has millions of vaccines while millions of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have none.

When confronted, claim anti-Semitism

And like with all criticisms of Zionism, Israel grew furious when people began calling out its racist, medical apartheid towards Palestinians, the Guardian was accused of lying and asked to apologize over its articles.

Even Michael Che, who joked on Saturday Night Live about Israel only vaccinating its Jewish population, was accused of racism; Netanyahu along with Danny Danon and other Israeli officials quickly rushed to accuse him of anti-Semitism.

So while the Israelis have been able to enjoy an easing of lockdown restrictions and a drop in infections of COVID-19, earlier this month, on March 11, Palestinians saw their worst day yet with a record 27 fatalities and 2300 registered cases in a single day.

Although the Palestinians have been able to acquire some 2000 doses from Israel, 10,000 doses of the Sputnik vaccine from Russia, and another 60,000 doses delivered by the United Nations through its COVAX programme, this is nowhere near enough to inoculate a population of 5 million.

Even though, last year in May 2020, The United Nations asked Israel to have mercy on the hundreds of Palestinian children that it keeps in its jails, and to release them for fear that they might catch COVID or spark an outbreak, Israel ignored this request and is still illegally detaining Palestinian children, just as we saw a few days ago in Hebron, continuing to brutalize them, and doesn't even care to release them, or inoculate them, putting their health at further risk.

And in December of 2020 Initially, Israel's Public Security Minister, Amir Ohana, refused to allow Palestinian prisoners to be vaccinated in Israeli jails, and only for prison staff to be vaccinated. He even defied the orders of the health minister.

Medical apartheid in occupied Palestine

As you know, the Israelis are refusing to vaccinate Palestinians, what did you think of this idea that Israel wants to send vaccines to countries that will move their embassy to Jerusalem?

Yeah, that's interesting. I mean, Israel uses all tools that they can in the world you know to try and put pressure on countries to favour its international goals, you know, I mean it uses all kinds of nefarious methods so it's not completely surprising but you're right, I mean it's a typically despicable thing for them to do. The thing that struck me as well was they started this programme for vaccines for foreign diplomats living in Tel Aviv, mostly, although, of course, the Americans have moved to Jerusalem now, and they're going to be vaccinating them, you know, but still there's, there's millions of Palestinians living in territories controlled by Israel, that have not been vaccinated and have no entitlement to vaccines under Israeli apartheid.

 Asa Winstanley, Journalist, Electronic Intifada

How is the situation looking now because, as you know, Israel claims to be number one in vaccinations, but they're not counting the Palestinians whose homeland they are occupying and now in March Israel says they'll start vaccinating some of the Palestinian workers that crossover into Israel?

Under Israel's apartheid system, only the Jews, only the Israeli Jews, have an entitlement to all sorts of different privileges, you know, and this is Israel's apartheid system, 6 million Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have no basic human or political rights under Israel's apartheid system, that's why it is called an apartheid system, which, as you know there's literally a different legal system for them.

So, this extends to the entitlement to vaccines as well, and it is only after Israel's come under massive, you know, massive amount of pressure and international criticism that they've even began offering even its, you know, a small token amount of Palestinians, the Palestinians who work in Israeli settlements, work in what is called Israel proper beyond the green line, offering a limited amount of them some vaccines and it's only, you know, because of this. The description of it as vaccine apartheid, it's become a very sensitive issue for them so they've, they've offered these few vaccines and now they're saying, well it's not apartheid because you know we're offering some Palestinians the vaccine.

Asa Winstanley, Journalist, Electronic Intifada

All these Israeli officials are now responding to this criticism by saying that it's anti semitic, and you know they even got mad at this SNL joke. It is obscene how they're calling out anyone who exposes their refusal to abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention is anti semitic.

This is Israel's tactic, it's always Israel's tactic to distract from its crimes by accusing its critics of having some sort of ulterior motive. You know, the Saturday Night Live incident was a good example of that, you know, there was this comedian, Michael Che, I think is his name, who made this joke that Israel is reporting that they vaccinated half of their population, and I'm going to guess the this the Jewish half. Well it was a joke. It was quite a funny joke, it was basically true because Israel was offering only, as I said like the Jewish half of the population was really the only people who were offered the vaccine and what illustrates that more than ever is the fact that Israeli settlers in the West Bank, even under international law which you know the US and everyone (including) Britain claims to abide by, but doesn't, even under that law, those settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law. Well, only Jews can live in them, and Israeli Jewish citizens living in those settlements, illegal settlements, were given and had the right to the vaccine but the Palestinians living in nearby communities were not, you know, so that's a perfect example of it. And yeah Israel's strategy is always to accuse its critics of anti semitism and starting with the Palestinians.

Asa Winstanley, Journalist, Electronic Intifada

Israel, is saying that the Oslo Accords relieve them of their obligation to abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention. Do you think it's true that a bilateral agreement can just cancel out a superseding international law, which is universal essentially?

No of course not I mean even the Oslo Accords themselves which, you know, in my view, are illegitimate anyway, but even the locals themselves state that Israel has an obligation to provide the Palestinian authority with support during pandemics, you know, so it doesn't relieve Israel of its obligations under international law, to provide basic services. Of course, in reality the whole goal of the Oslo Accords was to essentially subcontract out Israeli occupation to, you know, an indigenous agent essentially, you know, like all settler colonial powers, like all instances of of imperialism. Israel relies on tries to and in certain sense certain circumstances has been, has had some measures of success, to recruit native agents for its power, you know like, the British when they occupied India would set, set different religious communities against each other in order to kind of divide and rule and to increase their power. So, the Israelis know that the Palestinian Authority knows its population better than they could possibly, and it's kind of a mask for them, it's quite it's it's a way for them to kind of launder their image and get away from fulfilling its obligations under international law.

Asa Winstanley, Journalist, Electronic Intifada

The ICC is probing Israel for war crimes. And now we have Israel violating the Geneva Convention yet again.

Do you think that there are going to be any actual consequences for what Israel is doing to the Palestinians in regards to depriving them of vaccines and what do you think the long term effects of this will be?

The ICC investigation is an interesting one because, It is true that it's been very slow in happening, the chief prosecutor of the ICC has announced this and she's on her way out. To clarify, she hasn't been sacked but she's stepping down from her role, and just before she stepped down, I can't remember if it was just before or just after but round about the same time she stepped down, she, finally, after years of talking about it and kind of prevaricating, said okay we are going to launch an investigation into Israeli war crimes in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

Now, it's interesting because I think the ICC, If you look at the record of the ICC, I'm not an expert on it but I think we all know, we can all see, that almost the only people that the ICC has prosecuted so far are political leaders who are black Africans, essentially, who are accused accused of war crimes.

Asa Winstanley, Journalist, Electronic Intifada

So the war crimes of the West and of Israel, have not been touched by it. So I think as an international body, these international bodies like the UN and the International Criminal Court, and the World Court as well before it, as ostensibly international bodies, I think they do come under pressure to an extent from people in, you know what used to be called the third world, the global South, and leave the political leaders there who are started to notice, hang on, you only prosecuting black Africans, what's going on here, you know, what about Britain's crimes in Iraq, the US crimes in Afghanistan, you know, what about European colonial crimes, you know, if we're going back in time, you know, all over the world. And, and in a way, in some ways, Israel is the last outpost of European colonialism that is still ongoing as an active settler colonial project, you know, the, the French were driven out of Algeria, by an anti colonial rebellion, you know, if you go back further, Haiti was the first state in the world to abolish slavery, when the former enslaved Africans liberated themselves from the brutality of French slavery.

Asa Winstanley, Journalist, Electronic Intifada

Colonialism is doomed to fail

And then they fought off, you know, they fought off three colonial powers, the British, the Spanish and the French, to become free, so like it, Israel is a settler colonial project which is still ongoing in this way, which was launched by a Western European power under the auspices of the British Empire. So, I suppose in a way the ICC agreeing to prosecute that it could be the start of something which is why it is being viewed as dangerous by the British government and the US government, with the US government even sanctioning the chief prosecutor of the ICC, you know, at Israel's behest, Israel's request, and that was done under the Trump administration, the same sanctions are under place, you know, even though Biden is the great white hope. Yeah, they're still they're still in place. So these vindictive Trump's anxious, is still being enforced by the Biden administration. So it depends. Let's see what happens. There are some very good Palestinian lawyers who have been working for many years now, to try and use these institutions to get what they were ostensibly designed to do which is to achieve justice for people who have been subjected to these crimes.

Asa Winstanley, Journalist, Electronic Intifada

And then they fought off, you know, they fought off three colonial powers, the British, the Spanish and the French, to become free, so like it, Israel is a settler colonial project which is still ongoing in this way, which was launched by a Western European power under the auspices of the British Empire. So, I suppose in a way the ICC agreeing to prosecute that it could be the start of something which is why it is being viewed as dangerous by the British government and the US government, with the US government even sanctioning the chief prosecutor of the ICC, you know, at Israel's behest, Israel's request, and that was done under the Trump administration, the same sanctions are under place, you know, even though Biden is the great white hope. Yeah, they're still they're still in place. So these vindictive Trump's anxious, is still being enforced by the Biden administration. So it depends. Let's see what happens. There are some very good Palestinian lawyers who have been working for many years now, to try and use these institutions to get what they were ostensibly designed to do which is to acheive justice for people who have been subjected to these crimes.

Asa Winstanley, Journalist, Electronic Intifada

Israel deprived Palestinians of food and medical supplies

Recent history shows how it treats healthcare workers and doctors, and what it does to the Palestinian healthcare infrastructure.

During 2009, Israel, purposely deprived Palestinians of food, of medical supplies, of essential care and deliberately blocked and otherwise impeded emergency relief and humanitarian assistance and purposely targeted vehicles that were carrying humanitarian relief and violated international law.

In 2014, during Israel's ground invasion of Gaza, Israel killed over 2200 Palestinians, 65% of whom were civilians. The UN found that "17 hospitals, 56 primary health care facilities and 45 ambulances were damaged or destroyed.

The total cost to Gaza's health care system, $50,000,000.

Sixteen health care workers were killed and 83, most of them ambulance drivers and volunteers, were injured. Then, in 2018-2019, during the right to return marches, Israel purposely shot at and targeted unarmed Palestinians, wounding thousands of them and killing over 180, among them, medical staff.

A report by the United Nations found that Israeli snipers intentionally shot healthcare workers despite seeing that they were clearly marked as such. One of those health care workers was 20 year old Roseanne, who worked tirelessly as a medic, to help the injured and tend to the wounded. Her death caused widespread outrage and the Israeli occupation forces even tried to smear her name after one of their own snipers deliberately killed her.

Gaza itself which has been devastated by Israel's ruthless bombings, over and over, and has been under siege from Israel and Egypt since 2007, with only limited humanitarian supplies being allowed through. Even construction materials are not permitted.

Israel literally picks and chooses what Palestinians in Gaza can bring into their own country.

 A UN report from 2009 states that the Israeli blockade is one of the main reasons there is not enough medical equipment or medical supplies available. All this to say that Israel has no problem killing medical workers and medics and doctors, and destroying medical and public health infrastructure belonging to Palestinians.

So, of course, when it suits Israel, Israel claims that Palestinians are autonomous and that they can deal with their own health issues.

And yet when something doesn't suit them, like the International Criminal Court saying it will investigate war crimes, then all of a sudden, Israel claims that this is not possible, that Palestine is not a real state and that the ICC can't expand jurisdiction there.

This is sheer hypocrisy. This is what occupation looks like. This is Israel's true face, not the one that they sell you in the mainstream media, how Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, that's a fairy tale slogan, Israel is not a democracy.

Israel is a racist colonialist settler project that was created by the United Kingdom and treats Palestinians as less than human. Israel since its inception has been ethnically cleansing the Palestinian people, bulldozing their homes, turning them into refugees, killing them in cold blood.

Israel is one of the biggest human rights violators on the face of this planet, it has no respect for the Geneva Convention, nor for international law, Israel has purposely targeted public health infrastructure, purposely targeted medical workers, purposely targeted nurses, doctors and paramedics and this is documented by virtually every single news outlet and human rights organization that exists.

So it's absolutely no surprise that an apartheid, genocidal regime like that would now deprive Palestinians of a vaccine, even during a global pandemic on their own land, and then try to whitewash Its racist apartheid crimes and boast about how successful it is.

This is just another chapter in Israel's long and brutal oppression of the Palestinian people; it's cruel and inhumane treatment of them during war and during occupation.

This depraved wicked treatment of Palestinians will go down in history as one of the worst crimes against humanity, and people will scratch their heads, how the entire world, including many Arab nations, stood by watching, and did nothing.

It's an absolute disgrace and anyone with a conscience can see that.


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