March 25, 2021. Today, six Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations petitioned the High Court of Justice to demand that Israel take immediate steps to ensure regular supply of vaccines to the Palestinian population under occupation  in the West Bank and Gaza. The petitioners also demand that the state transfer its surplus vaccines to Palestinians immediately.

The petition (Hebrew) was submitted by Adv. Adi Lustigman on behalf of Physicians for Human Rights Israel, HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, and Rabbis for Human Rights. The organizations emphasize that Israel has legal, moral and ethical obligations towards the Palestinians, deriving from its occupation and ongoing control of Gaza and the West Bank.

According to recent data presented in the petition, the rates of COVID-19 mortality in the West Bank and Gaza have reached a new peak, with 27 fatalities a day, and the percentage of positive tests stands at 20%. Palestinian hospitals in the West Bank are filled to capacity, and some of them have stopped admitting cancer patients from the Gaza Strip who require urgent and lifesaving treatments. Together, the number of fatalities in the West Bank and Gaza exceeds 2,708, with a mortality rate of 1.1% of confirmed cases, a high rate compared to Israel. The total supply of vaccines available in the occupied Palestinian territory so far numbers about 135,000 doses, enough for only 67,500 people, less than 1.5% of the population in the West Bank and Gaza, and not enough to provide for all at-risk groups, including the elderly and immunocompromised. The organizations also argue that excluding Palestinians from Israel’s vaccination drive makes little epidemiological sense.

“The respondents’ current policy and their failure to ensure that the entire population is vaccinated violates Palestinian inhabitants’ basic rights to life and bodily integrity, and represents an ongoing injustice,” write the petitioners. “Evidently, the Palestinian Authority has an insufficient number of vaccines, whereas in what is practically the same area, the population of Israeli citizens and residents is almost fully vaccinated, apart from those who decline it. This situation cannot be justified in any way, and it violates both binding Israeli and international law as well as medical ethics, morality, and sheer humanity.”

For more information about the petition, see here.