While Palestinians are left waiting, ‘Israel’ leads world in COVID vaccinations

Occupied Palestine (QNN)- While leaving Palestinians waiting to get COVID-19 vaccinations, ‘Israel’ is leading the world in the global vaccination race, urging the world to follow its rapid vaccine rollout.

Speaking to Sky News, Israel’s health minister Yuli Edelstein said that expert logistics, early procurement, close co-operation with the manufacturer and Israeli innovation had all been combined to make ‘Israel’ a clear leader in the global vaccination race.

He also urged the countries to simply “get out there” if they want to replicate ‘Israel’s’ vaccination success.

“The faster we get the vaccine into their arms, the less cases we’ll see in our hospitals and, God forbid, deaths,” Edelstein said.

He added, “Get out there. Don’t put a huge station in the middle of your capital and wait for people to come… Try to get it out to – if not to their homes – then at least to their areas; to the suburbs, to their towns.”

“We will be the first country in the world to emerge from the coronavirus… As part of the agreement with Pfizer, we decided that Israel will be a global model state for the rapid vaccination of an entire country,” Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week.

“I am continuing to work around the clock to bring millions of vaccines to Israel and at the same time, the health system is continuing to vaccinate the citizens of Israel at a pace that is awe-inspiring to the entire world,” Netanyahu wrote on Twitter.

More than a million Israelis, some 12 percent of the ‘Israeli’ population, receive the vaccination in less than two weeks – the highest rate in the world.

About 19% of Israel’s 8.9 million population has received a dose of the vaccine, according to Bloomberg’s Vaccine Tracker.

Although ‘Israel’ has been praised for its swift vaccine rollout, it has been criticised for not giving Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza strip access to the vaccine.

Edelstein told Sky News, “They have to learn how to take care of themselves.”

Dr Ali Abed Rabbo, director of preventative health at the Palestinian Ministry of Health, said that ‘Israel’, as an “occupying force”, is obliged to provide the vaccine.

He told Sky News, “As an occupying force, I think and I believe that Israel had the commitment to procure the vaccine for the Palestinian population because they are the occupying force.”

Under the fourth Geneva Convention, occupying forces are responsible for providing healthcare to the population of the occupied area.

Most states as well as the United Nations Security Council, the United Nations General Assembly, the International Court of Justice, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, consider ‘Israel’ to be an occupying power.

Amnesty International last Wednesday called on ‘Israel’ to provide coronavirus vaccine doses to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, saying ‘Israel’ is obligated to do so under international law.

“The Israeli government must stop ignoring its international obligations as an occupying power and immediately act to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are equally and fairly provided to Palestinians living under its occupation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,” said Amnesty International.

Amnesty added, “The COVID-19 vaccine roll-out plan so far covers only citizens of Israel, including Israeli settlers living inside the West Bank, and Palestinian residents of Jerusalem. It excludes the nearly 5 million Palestinians who live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, under Israeli military occupation.”

Asked if ‘Israel’ would provide the vaccine to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, Edelstein told Sky News, “We definitely will consider that but as I’ve said, I sincerely hope that by that time part of their population will be vaccinated by different vaccines that they are trying to purchase. If any other help will be needed, we will offer.”

As of 3 January 2021, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 159,034 Palestinians in the OPT, including East Jerusalem, have so far tested positive for coronavirus since the first confirmed case was reported in March 2020.

There have been nearly 1,600 deaths related to COVID-19 among Palestinians in the OPT since the beginning of the pandemic.

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