Israel has moral duty and health need to vaccine Palestinians

Opinion: The coronavirus does not care about borders and national identities, and with both populations mingling for work or commerce, Jerusalem must make sure out neighbors are inoculated for both people's sake

Shelly Kamin-Friedman|
Israel's vaccination campaign and its priority inoculations for the elderly, as well as refugees and foreign workers, is admirable and warrants national pride.
  • Follow Ynetnews on Facebook and Twitter

  • But alongside it - and us - are the Palestinians, who also have elderly and at-risk groups and who unable to be vaccinated.
    4 View gallery
    Palestinians at a border crossing near Jerusalem
    Palestinians at a border crossing near Jerusalem
    Palestinians at a border crossing near Jerusalem
    (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
    The coronavirus pandemic knows no national borders or military checkpoints and the Palestinians have seen a massive surge in infections and deaths.
    According to the World Health Organization, as of Sunday the Palestinian Authority had recorded 120,125 cases and 1,302 deaths.
    The Palestinian Authority's health system is severely disorganized and lacking in both manpower and resources, relying on support from Israel and foreign and humanitarian organizations to continue operating.
    With help from the United Nations' Covax program, which aids low and middle-income nations with vaccine procurement, the Palestinian Authority might be able at most to vaccinate 20% of its population.
    It is time for Israel to show responsibility and help the Palestinians in their vaccination drive.
    Despite the basic fact that Israel controls all entry points into the Palestinian Authority, affecting its ability to receive vaccine shipments (with those approved for emergency use requiring refrigeration), Jerusalem also limits Ramallah to procuring vaccines only approved by the Health Ministry.
    4 View gallery
    בדיקת קורונה מטוש מטושים פלסטינים תרקומיא חברון
    בדיקת קורונה מטוש מטושים פלסטינים תרקומיא חברון
    A Palestinian health worker performing a coronavirus test on a laborer returning from Israel to the West Bank
    (Photo: EPA)
    This prevents the Palestinians from receiving cheaper vaccines like the China or Russian variants and makes it more difficult to afford the more expensive ones made by Moderna and Pfizer.
    Solidarity and equality are the most basic values of public health generally and vaccinations specifically.
    Good health and inoculations are a public product that everyone deserves, regardless of origin or place of residence.
    It is difficult to imagine just how troubling would be images of Palestinians continuing to fall ill and die from COVID-19 while the citizens of Israel were all vaccinated, including low-risk groups.
    Israel has never shied away from its commitment to universal healthcare. It should be lauded for its aid to victims of natural disasters around the world and the treatment of casualties in the Syrian Civil War in its hospitals.
    4 View gallery
    A healthcare worker speaks to an Arab Israeli woman before giving her a Covid-19 vaccine
    A healthcare worker speaks to an Arab Israeli woman before giving her a Covid-19 vaccine
    A healthcare worker speaks with an Arab Israeli woman before giving her the COVID-19 vaccine
    (Photo: AFP)
    Despite Syria being an enemy state, its citizens were brought to Israel to receive equal treatment that not only saved lives but improved their overall health, helping with rehabilitation and even chronic illnesses.
    If we can take it upon ourselves to help the citizens of an enemy state, we are doubly obligated to do the same for our Palestinian neighbors.
    4 View gallery
    בית חולים שדה ברפיח
    בית חולים שדה ברפיח
    A coronavirus ward at a field hospital in the Gaza city of Rafah
    Helping the Palestinians fulfill their right to vital treatment is a humanitarian effort that will aid both them and Israel achieve "communal immunity" that is essential for protecting those who have yet to be vaccinated, including children and people with severe allergies.
    Coronavirus does not ask a person where they are from before infecting them and certainly does not stop for military checkpoints.
    Palestinians arrive in Israel to work and Israelis travel to the West Bank to shop, movement that ties the epidemiological destiny of both peoples together.

    Dr. Shelly Kamin-Friedman is a lawyer and an expert in medical and public health law. She is the author of the 'Right to Vaccine' policy paper from the Zulat Institute for Equality and Human Rights and the Physicians for Human Rights Organization
    The commenter agrees to the privacy policy of Ynet News and agrees not to submit comments that violate the terms of use, including incitement, libel and expressions that exceed the accepted norms of freedom of speech.