This year in 2021, while Israel has been lauded as the model to to imitate in terms of vaccine distribution, this apartheid practice has been clear and evident: Israel has denied Palestinians under occupation their fair share of vaccine. But this disparity between health care for Israelis and Palestinians under occupation in the West Bank or under siege in Gaza is not new.
Access to health facilities and healthy living has long been a problem for Palestinians. Health infrastucrture under occupation is hard to build and over the time of the occupation and the siege of Gaza, Israel has constantly attacked that infrastructure.
A grave shortage of health facilities – in March 2020, there were a mere 120 ICU beds for a population of 4.9 million in the Gaza – and medical staff (exacerbated by Israeli soldiers deliberately targeting medical aiders during the Great March of Return) are one part of he problem. Israel also squeezes the supply of aspects of life that enable you to be healthy – food, water, electricity, schools and university, space.
Israel has a history of blocking medical care to Palestinians, as the Visualizing Palestine poster shows.
So, in this year, blocking the supply of vaccines to Palestinians under occupation is maybe no surprise – but it is in contravention of International law as set out in the 1907 Hague Regulations and Fourth Geneva Convention:
To the fullest extent of the means available to it, the occupying power must ensure sufficient hygiene and public health standards, as well as the provision of food and medical care to the population under occupation.
It is often Israeli government’s statement that the lack of supply is the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority (PA); but this is a diversion:
Agreements concluded between the occupying power and the local authorities cannot deprive the population of occupied territory of the protection afforded by international humanitarian law (GC IV, art. 47) and protected persons themselves can in no circumstances renounce their rights (GC IV, art. 8).