Contact Don Bryant: [email protected] – 216-255-1576
For Immediate Release
|CLEVELAND, OHIO While Covid-19 rates in Israel are soaring, Israeli officials are withholding all vaccinations from the Palestine Occupied Territories of West Bank and Gaza. Israel currently has the highest rate of covid-19 vaccinations in the world according to Forbes Magazine (1) but vaccination is withheld from the wards of Israeli occupation.
Maha Rasheed, a North Olmsted nurse, and mother of two is concerned about her family, living in Occupied Palestine, particularly in Gaza, under military blockade since 2007. Rasheed said, “there is one main hospital in Gaza that can treat patients with a population of 2.2 million. Protective equipment, medication, and ventilators are very limited. If the virus gets out of control many people will die.”
Mustafa Barghouti, a physician in Ramallah, West Bank, and the head of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society continues to work even after he contracted COVID-19 in December 2020. Barghouti says that Israel has denied vaccinations to health care workers despite the World Health Organization’s appeal to Israel to do so. According to Barghouti, Israel gives vaccinations to illegal settlers in the West Bank but not to the legal Palestinian residents. “Israeli prisoners that are criminals are vaccinated but not Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails,” Barghouti claimed, calling it “medical apartheid.”
According to international law occupying powers must provide health care to the occupied population, as stated in the Fourth Geneva Convention: “They [protected persons] shall, if their state of health so requires, receive medical attention and hospital treatment to the same extent as the nationals of the State concerned,” and “[T]he Occupying Power has the duty of ensuring and maintaining… the medical & hospital establishments and services, public health, and hygiene in the occupied territory…”
The United States government supports Israel geopolitically and gives an annual $3.8 billion in military aid to Israel. Cleveland Peace Action calls on Congress to pressure Israel to live up to its humanitarian and legal responsibilities to vaccinate health care workers, Palestinian prisoners, and vulnerable Palestinians at the same level as Israelis. Congress should withhold any further foreign aid until compliance is fulfilled and a humanitarian health crisis is averted.