While the world stands in awe at Israel’s vaccine rollout, the millions of Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation are left out of the “success story”. Israeli health minister claims it is not Israel’s responsibility to vaccinate Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Besides the sheer immorality of this stance, it is also plainly and simply illegal.
The Geneva Conventions (i.e. international law) explicitly state the following regarding the responsibilities of Occupying Powers (Israel, in this case):
“The Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring […] the adoption and application of the prophylactic and preventive measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics .”Article 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention
Many who sought to defend Israel’s decision frantically waved the Oslo Accords (1993 agreement between Israel and Palestine), which sought to make the Palestinian Authority responsible for vaccinating the West Bank and Gaza.
However, going back to the Geneva Conventions:
“Protected persons who are in occupied territory shall not be deprived, in any case or in any manner whatsoever, of the benefits of the present Convention […] by any agreement concluded between the authorities of the occupied territories and the Occupying Power […].”Article 47 of the Fourth Geneva Convention
The Oslo Accords do not absolve Israel of its duties as an occupying power, despite its attempts to do so. They are overruled by the Convention. The decision to exclude Palestinians living under occupation from the Covid-19 vaccine is not only barbaric but an unequivocal violation of international law, to which Israel is no stranger.