Nearly 150 Healthcare Workers and Organizations Call on Israel to Supply Vaccines to oPt

As coronavirus infections and deaths spike in the West Bank and Gaza , nearly 150 healthcare workers, legal experts and organizations support the petition of human rights groups, including PHRI, at the Supreme Court, and demand that Israel immediately secure a supply of vaccines to the Palestinian population.

© Photo: Activestills

As COVID-19-related mortality and morbidity rates in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) have risen to unprecedented levels, we, the undersigned health and human rights experts and organizations, call on Israel to provide access to vaccines to all people under its jurisdiction, including as a result of its exercise of effective control over them, as mandated by international humanitarian law, international human rights law and epidemiological needs. COVID-19 is a global pandemic and requires a worldwide effort to ensure vaccine equity between Global North and Global South countries. The UN Human Rights Council has recognized this in its consensus resolution on “Ensuring equitable, affordable, timely and universal access for 3rd countries to vaccines in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic”.

The legal obligation to ensure vaccine access is even more critical in the case of Israel and the oPt, where Israel, as the Occupying Power, is legally and morally obligated to provide the vaccines to Palestinians. There are now 27 deaths a day in the oPt due to COVID-19, and the percentage of positive tests stands at 20%. According to the World Health Organization, many West Bank hospitals are now at 115% capacity and, as a result, some have stopped accepting cancer patients. The Palestinian death toll has exceeded 2,500 in total, and the mortality rate is currently 1.1%, significantly higher than Israel’s.

Meanwhile, only 135,000 vaccine doses, intended for only 67,500 people, have been provided to Palestinians in the oPt, less than 1.5% of the Palestinian population. At the same time, Israel has vaccinated almost 5.2 million people: over half of its population. Directly, Israel provided only 2,000 of the vaccines that have been provided to the oPt, with the rest donated by other countries or provided through the COVAX mechanism.

Israel’s legal obligations — as asserted by over 30 Palestinian, Israeli and international health and human rights organizations — derive from its status as an Occupying Power and the extent of its control over the oPt. The ongoing occupation grievously impacts the functioning of the Palestinian health care system, fragmented between the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, with severe restrictions on the movement of patients, equipment and medical staff and a chronic shortage of skilled workforce, medical equipment and pharmaceuticals. The Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War specifically provides that an 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” (art. 56). The Convention also notes that protected persons must “if their health so requires it, receive medical attention and hospital treatment to the same extent as the nationals of the State concerned” (art. 38). Under the Oslo Accords, any transfer of competences related to the healthcare sector to the Palestinian Authority cannot and does not relieve Israel of its legal obligations.

There is also a public health need for Israel to provide the vaccine to Palestinians as daily contacts between Palestinians and Israelis mean that the health of both peoples are inextricably entwined. Israeli public health figures have already indicated that there is a public health need to vaccinate Palestinians, which Israel has acknowledged by vaccinating more than 100,000 Palestinian workers who enter Israel or its illegal settlements on a daily basis.

Providing vaccines to Palestinians in the oPt will reduce the spread of COVID-19 and save the lives of Palestinians and Israelis. It will allow Palestinian residents to resume their lives – to work, study, access medical treatment, and to reunite with loved ones. It is also Israel’s legal obligation as an Occupying Power and an obligation under the right to health for Israel to guarantee vaccine access to all without discrimination.

To sign the statement, please send an email, with your official title, to [email protected]

Health and Human Rights Organizations:

American Muslim Health Professionals
Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN)
EuroMed Rights
International Committee of Jurists
International Federation of Health and Human Rights Workers
International Society for Social Pediatrics and Child Health
Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Council
Medecins du Monde France
Physicians for Human Rights
Première Urgence Internationale

Health Professionals and Legal Experts:

Mayada Akil, MD, USA
Mohammad Aldalou, MD, AUG Faculty of Medicine, Palestine
Ross Andelman, MD, Pediatric and Adult Psychiatrist, Canada
Yara M. Asi, Post-Doctoral Scholar, University of Central Florida/Al Shabaka/Arab Center Washington DC, USA
Alberto Barbieri, General Coordinator, Medici Per Idiritti Umani-MEDU, Italy
Heather Barnett, MD, USA
Ellen Benoit, National Development and Research Institutes, USA
Trude Bennett, Public Health Advocate, Jewish Voice for Peace, USA
Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC (Hon), Human Rights Lawyer, Bindmans LLP, UK
Jeffrey Boro, Lawyer, USA
Laura Botwinick, MS, Director, Graduate Program in Health Administration and Policy      University of Chicago, USA
 Bill Bowring, Professor of Law, UK
Gisela Cardozo, Vicepresident Permanent Assembly for Human Rights, APDH Argentina, Argentina
James C.Cobey, MD, FACS, Surgeon, G4 Alliance for Surgery and PHR, USA
Stanley Cohen, Attorney at law, USA
Janet Cousens, CEO, Act for Peace, Australia
Nadav Davidovitch, M.D. Professor of Public Health, Ben Gurion University and Israeli Association of Public Health Physicians, Israel
Peter Draper, MD, MPHm physician and public health advocate, USA
Mona Elshafie, MD, UK
Jennifer Erb-Downward, Senior Research Associate, University of Michigan, USA
Gene Feder, Professor of Primary Care, Bristol Medical School, UK
Maxine Fookson, RN, MN, USA
Matthew Fowler, RN, UK
Samuel R Friedman, Research Professor, Dept of Population Health, NYU Grossman School of Medicine, USA
Mads Frilander, Country Director, DanChurchAid, Palestine
Gayle Galletta , M.D., University of Massachusetts, USA
Emily Galper, Public Health Consultant, USA
Kristina Gemzell Danielsson, Professor and Chair of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
Julie Goffin, Attorney at law, USA
Jennifer Grossman, RN, Executive Director, Nurses for Social Justice, USA
Jeffrey Haas, Civil Rights Attorney, Santa Feans for Justice in Palestine, USA
Steffen Hagemann, Director, Heinrich-Boell-Stiftung Tel Aviv, Israel
Hans House, M.D., Professor of Emergency Medicine, University of Iowa, USA
Jane Heybroek, LLB, Barrister, UK
Huda Akil, PhD, Prof. of Psychiatry , University of California, USA
Marium Husain, MD, USA
Kiran Joshi, Physician , USA
Areej Kabat, Areej Kabat, Biologist, Sheba Medical Center, Israel
Glen Katon, Civil Rights Attorney, USA
Ann Louise Kinmonth, Professor of Medicine, Cambridge University, UK
Joseph C. Kolars, Professor and Board Member, Consortium of Universities for Global Health, USA
Jennifer Leaning, MD SMH, Senior Research Fellow, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University, Boston, MA
Shmuel Lederman, PhD, Genocide Studies specialist, University of Haifa, Israel
Zohar Lederman, MD, Rambam Hospital, Israel
Rebecca Leff, MD, Mayo Clinic, USA
Noël Leifer, EMT supervisor, COVID Triage, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, USA
Janet Litherland, MD, Consultant Radiologist, Glasgow, Scotland
Margaret Lynch, Emeritus Professor of Community Paediatrics, UK
Jane Macaskill, MD, Consultant Surgeon, Scotland
Shelley Mann-Lev, Public Health Consultant, USA
Bettina Marx, Phd, Director, Heinrich Boell Foundation Palestine and Jordan, Ramallah
Shaista Meraj, MD, Consultant Radiologist, UK
Alan Meyers, MD, MPH, Professor of Pediatrics, Emeritus Boston University School of Medicine, USA           
Bertha Mo, PhD, Adjunct Research Faculty, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Carleton University, Canada
Nazia Mohammed, MD, Consultant Oncologist, UK.
Jessica Montell, Executive Director, HaMoked, Jerusalem
Mariana La Morgia, APDH, Argentina
Linda Rae Murray M.D. MPH, Past President, American Public Health Association, USA
Sophie Neuburg, Executive Director, Medact, UK
Ogechi Nwodim, M.D ., MPh, USA   
Peter Orris, MD, Chicago, IL
Liana Petruzzi, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, USA
Susan Power, Head of Legal Research and Advocacy, Al-Haq, Palestine
Shanti Raman, MBBS, MAE, PhD, FRACP, Director – Community Paediatrics, South Western Sydney, Australia       
Saed Ramzi, MD, UK
Leonard Rubenstein, Professor of the Practice, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Washington, DC
Alice Rothchild, MD, Harvard Medical School, USA
Rachel Rubin, MD, Senior Public Health Officer & Co-Lead, Cook County Department of Public Health, USA
Margie Schaps, Executive Director, Health & Medicine Policy Research Group     Chicago,  USA
Thomas Schmidt, General Secretary of the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH), Germany
Hina Shahid, MD, Chairperson Muslim Doctors Association & Allied Health Professionals, UK
Aimee Shalan, Chief Executive, Medical Aid for Palestinians, UK
 Ashwini Sharma, MD, UK
Barbara Shaw, Nurse Practitioner, USA
Tareq   Shrourou, Executive Director, Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, UK
Malcolm Steinberg, MD, Director Public Health Programs, Faculty Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Canada
Kate Sugarman, MD, USA
Osama Tanous, MD and Public Health Scholar, The Galilee Society, USA
Sally Thorne, RN, Canada
Liz Tobin-Tyler, Health and Human Rights Lawyer, USA
Tony Waterston, MD, UK
Brendon Watson, MD-PhD, USA
Scott Weinstein, RN, USA
Philippa Whitford, MD, Member of UK Parliament, UK
Bram Wispelwey, MD, USA
Brian Wispelwey, MD, Professor of Medicine, University of Virginia, USA
Betty Wolder Levin, Professor Emerita, CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, New York
Matthew K. Wynia, MD, FACS, Director, Center for Bioethics and Humanities Professor, University of Colorado School of Medicine and Colorado School of Public Health           
Amy Zeidan, MD, Georgia Human Rights Clinic, USA

Medical Students:

Dania Abu-Jubara, Medical student, USA
Reem Al-Atassi, Medical student, USA
Rishab Chawla, Medical student, USA
Wesley Chou, Medical student, USA
Sari Cohen, Medical student, Israel
Elizabeth Cosby, Medical student, USA
Parsa Erfani, Medical student, USA
Seth Garrett, Medical student, USA
Danna Ghafir, Medical student, USA
Sarah Ghalayini, Medical student, USA
Farris Haidary, Medical student, USA
Sameena Hameed, Medical student, USA
Olivia   Herrington, Medical student, USA
Vaishvi Jhaveri, Medical student, USA
Ishara Lareef, Medical student, USA
Alannah Lejeune, PhD student, USA
Allison Lenselink, Medical student, USA
Spandana Mandaloju, Medical student, USA
Racheed Mani, Medical student, USA
Michele Naideck, Medical student, Israel
Michele Naideck, Medical student, Israel
Ellen Penn, Medical student, USA
Dana Potashner, Medical student, Israel
Liat Poupko, Medical student, Israel
Anna Quinn, Medical student , USA
Tala Radejko, Medical student, USA
Ramya Radhakrishnan, Medical student, USA
Sabahat Rahman, Medical student, USA
Raymond Rosenbloom, Medical student, Israel
Marah Sakkal, Medical student, USA
Leah Sarah Peer, Medical student, Israel
Anahita Sattari, Medical student, USA
Rachel Steckbeck, Medical student, USA
Arvind Suresh, Medical student, USA
Raquel Weinberg, Medical student, Israel
Amanda Zhao, Medical student, USA

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