Close to 400,000 Israelis have already been vaccinated against the coronavirus, and tens of thousands of others are on track to do the same in the coming weeks.
Israel was one of the first countries in the world to begin rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine to its population, and according to the University of Oxford-run Our World in Data, is currently second in the world in vaccinations per capita.
The Israeli Health Ministry is aiming to vaccinate 100,000 Israelis per day as soon as this week, Israeli media reported, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made the bold claim of saying that Israel would be out of the woods “within a few weeks.”
Last month, Israel secured 8 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine — enough to cover nearly half of Israel’s population of 9 million, as each person requires two doses. Among those eligible to receive the vaccine from the Israeli government, are the nearly 2 million Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Those not eligible to receive the vaccine, however, are the more than 5 million Palestinians living under the control of the Israeli occupation in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip.
The disparities between Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and Israeli citizens are constant, and simply a fact of everyday life in Israel and Palestine — laws that favor Israelis over Palestinians, and systems that actively discriminate against the latter are commonplace, and widely documented.
The apartheid system under which Israel operates inside the occupied territory, however, could not be better displayed than in the case of the COVID-19 vaccine — who gets the vaccine, and who doesn’t, is a simple matter of nationality.
“Firstly we have to be very clear: with military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza effectively under Israeli control, Israel is legally obliged by international law to provide for their [Palestinians’] healthcare,” Dr. Yara Hawari, Senior Analyst at Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network, told Mondoweiss.
“Israel is legally required to provide that vaccine to Palestinians under occupation. We know they [Israel] have not done that,” she said, adding that Israel puts that responsibility on the PA as the service provider for Palestinians.
“That’s a real worry,” Hawari told Mondoweiss. “We know it’s likely that it will be a really slow process if it’s just left up to the PA.”