Gisha and partner organizations in letter to Israeli authorities: Israel has a responsibility to ensure access to vaccines for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank

On Thursday, February 25, 2021, Gisha and partner human rights organizations Physicians for Human Rights Israel, HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, and Rabbis for Human Rights wrote to Minister of Defense Benny Gantz, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Kamil Abu Rokon, and Health Ministry Director Professor Hezy Levy. In the letter, notifying of possible legal action, the organizations demand information on steps Israel is taking to ensure the civilian population of the West Bank and Gaza Strip receives the coronavirus vaccine. The organizations emphasize that Israel must ensure supply of vaccines to Palestinians in the occupied territory, at the very least, for groups at risk of severe illness or death as a result of COVID-19.

The letter addressed reports about Israel’s plan to provide thousands of vaccines to third countries, indicating a surplus of vaccines in the country. “Providing vaccines to third countries, as long as it is done as an authentic humanitarian gesture, would be welcome,” the organizations stated. “However, it is important to reiterate that supplying vaccines to Palestinians is not an act of goodwill, but a fundamental element of Israel’s legal obligations, which are consistent with epidemiological reasoning, and with Israel’s ethical and moral responsibilities.” The organization also noted that “supplying a token amount of vaccines would not suffice.” The plan to provide vaccines to third countries has been put on hold for the time being, following the Attorney General’s request for clarifications and a legal opinion on the matter.

To read the letter (Hebrew), click here.