שרית רוזנבלום
Sarit Rosenblum
דנה קופל
Coronavirus testing center in Arab city of Tayibe

Israel is paying price for neglecting Arab sector during pandemic

Opinion: High COVID infection rates in Arab Israeli communities is a result of the government's poor management of the issue, opting instead to shrug the responsibility and blame the public, and when the public is Arab, it makes it that much easier for the government

Sarit Rosenblum |
Published: 09.30.21, 23:34
When it comes to the coronavirus pandemic in the Arab sector, Israel has left the community behind just like it did during the epidemic of violence in the sector which has already taken the lives of 99 people.
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  • The government is well aware of the high infection rate in the sector. The booster shot campaign is not very popular in the community where many refuse to get vaccinated even with the two initial vaccine doses.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    מחוץ למתחם בדיקות קורונה בטייבה
    מחוץ למתחם בדיקות קורונה בטייבה
    Coronavirus testing center in Arab city of Tayibe
    As a result, entire Arab sector has become vulnerable to COVID-19 and is now facing a real danger.
    According to surveys conducted by the Health Ministry in August, the main reason for the low response to vaccines is due to fear of its long-term effects, its effectiveness and the distrust of the establishment.
    In addition, the lack of accessibility to vaccination centers, lack of enforcement or incentives such as the Green Pass eligibility - since many Arab communities lack even cinemas or a gyms - prevent the Arab sector from defending themselves and their surroundings against the pathogen.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    נפתלי בנט מבקר במתחם חיסונים בטייבה
    נפתלי בנט מבקר במתחם חיסונים בטייבה
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett visits vaccination center in Tayibe
    (Photo: Yariv Katz)
    However, despite the clear data that indicates there is a serious problem in the Arab sector, Israel has not bothered to address the issue until Prime Minister Naftali Bennett finally talked about it on Wednesday, when he openly targeted the Israeli Arab communities as the main source of infection in Israel and said that "40 of the virus hotspots are located in Arab local authorities."
    But the truth is that very little is being done to reach out to the Bedouin communities in the Negev, or the residents of East Jerusalem and convince them that vaccines are important and save lives.
    "Antigen" coronavirus testing, the simplest home-testing kit, has not been made mandatory in schools in the Arab sector the way it was done in Israeli schools. Also, to this day, huge weddings continue to take place in the communities even though they serve as hotspots for coronavirus outbreaks.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    רפעת אל אסדי חתונה חתונות ערבים קורונה
    רפעת אל אסדי חתונה חתונות ערבים קורונה
    A wedding in Arab Israeli community
    So, instead of tackling the shortcomings and addressing and root out the problem, it is easier to shift the responsibility onto the public, and if it's the Arab public, who is already deprived and neglected - even better.
    The outbreak of COVID-19 in Arab Israeli communities is certainly disturbing, but it is only responsible for about half of recent infections Israel.
    Even if Arab communities serve as hotspots for virus infections and must be dealt with, the disease continues to spread in the general sector as well. Trying to manipulate the public so that we think the pandemic is behind us is a transparent and dangerous political strategy that may yet come back to us like a boomerang.
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