Occupied Jerusalem, ALRAY - Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the Israeli occupation authorities to provide Covid-19 vaccines to the more than 4.5 million Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
“While ‘Israel’ has already vaccinated more than 20 percent of its citizens, including Jewish settlers in the West Bank, it has not committed to vaccinate Palestinians living in the same occupied territory under its military rule,” the HRW said in a statement on Sunday.
It pointed out that the Israeli occupation duties under the Fourth Geneva Convention to ensure medical supplies, including to combat the spread of pandemics, are heightened after more than 50 years of occupation with no end in sight.
The HRW indicated that the aforementioned responsibilities, alongside its obligations under international human rights law, include providing vaccines in a nondiscriminatory manner to Palestinians living under its control, using as a benchmark what it provides for its own citizens.
It mentioned that the Palestinian authorities’ own obligations to protect the right to health of Palestinians in areas where they manage affairs do not exempt the Israeli occupation of its responsibilities.
“Nothing can justify today’s reality in parts of the West Bank, where people on one side of the street are receiving vaccines, while those on the other do not, based on whether they’re Jewish or Palestinian,” said Omar Shakir, ‘Israel’ and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch.
Shakir added that everyone in the same territory should shave equitable access to the vaccine, regardless of their ethnicity.
He indicated that the Israeli occupation authorities had, as of January 14, 2021, provided doses of the vaccine to more than 2 million Israeli citizens.
He pointed out that the Fourth Geneva Convention obliges ‘Israel’, as the occupying power, to ensure the “medical supplies of the occupied population,” including “adoption and application of the prophylactic and preventative measures necessary to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics” to “the fullest extent of the means available to it.
The HRW also pointed out that this obligation, as well as the customary international law requirement rooted in Article 43 of the Hague Resolutions of 1907 increases in a prolonged occupation, so as to ensure public order and safety for the occupied population.
It noted that the needs of the occupied population are greater under these circumstances, and the occupier has more time and opportunity to assume responsibility to protect rights.