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Daily News Analysis

Palestinian Covid vaccine efforts thwarted by Israel

Crescent International

Dr Ayesha Moola

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to overwhelm healthcare systems around the globe, a beacon of light presented itself in the form of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Most countries have speeded up efforts to vaccinate their populations in the hope of decreasing the toll that the Covid-19 virus has taken at numerous levels.

The country with the highest vaccination rate per capita is Israel.

Our World in Data reports a cumulative Covid vaccine dose of 79 per 100 population, more than 3.67 million Israelis have received the BiotechN-Pfizer mRna vaccine.

This stands in stark contrast to the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza, where Israeli occupation authorities have blocked delivery of the vaccine.

2000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine (Russia’s viral-two-vector vaccine) were intended for ICU staff and frontline healthcare workers.

Those in emergency departments faced high risk Covid interactions daily, as reported by the British daily, The Guardian.

Getting vaccines to Gaza (or any other medical equipment or aid) is logistically almost impossible because of the air, land, and naval blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt since 2007.

The countries most affected during this pandemic are those with minimal economic resources and already strained health infrastructure.

Gaza’s healthcare system is in shambles.

Apart from the vaccine, medical equipment, personal protective equipment and building material are among the few basic building blocks of a healthcare system that are currently prevented by the blockade.

Palestine has reported 170,527 Covid-19 cases and 1,948 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic last March.

The continuing siege has only intensified Palestine’s Covid-19 crisis.

Various countries’ Law of War Manuals afford medical equipment and material the same respect and protection that safeguard medical personnel during times of conflict.

Israel’s unethical behaviour comes as no surprise.

The zionists have been known to intentionally target clearly marked medical personnel in the field, in total violation ofthe Geneva Convention.

Article 24 of the 1949 Geneva Convention clearly states:

“Medical personnel (exclusively engaged in the search for, or the collection, transport or treatment of the wounded or sick, or in the prevention of disease, staff exclusively engaged in the administration of medical units and establishments) shall be respected and protected in all circumstances.”

Israel stands accused of war crimes after a historic verdict ofthe ICC Special Tribunal last month confirming its jurisdiction to investigate war crimes in the occupied territories.

On March 3, the ICC Special Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda announced she will proceed with the investigation into Israeli war crimes in the Occupied Palestinian territories.

The inequities in healthcare quality and access between two different populations is strikingly reminiscent of the apartheid regime of South Africa.

While Israel continues to avoid its moral, legal and ethical responsibilities to a people they have occupied, increasing international pressure offers a glimmer of hope, however small.

Ayesha Moola is a Medical Doctor in her second year of internship at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in South Africa. Passionate about the inequities faced in healthcare as well as struggles for justice globally, her writing covers these themes.

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