*Feature Picture: Israeli medical staff state “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies”!
Leading the world in vaccinating her citizens – Is Israel responsible for the Palestinians as well?
By Rolene Marks
Israel, the land of milk and honey is also the place of miracles. From biblical times we have marveled at events that can only be described as miraculous and this continues today. We have survived wars, countless attacks on our sovereignty and Israeli drivers but in the last few weeks, despite still rising Covid-19 numbers, Israel is rolling out and leading the world in our mission to vaccinate our citizens.
This is a true, modern day miracle. You could say that Israel has gone from Start-Up to Vaccination Nation!
Maybe it is our ability to adapt quickly, or our universal healthcare system or maybe it is our sense of responsibility for each other and impatience to get back to normal life that have contributed to the success of this but Israelis are very proud of our newest record of being on track to be the first country to have vaccinated all of our citizens. Initially, about a third of Israelis polled said they would be concerned about receiving the vaccine but as the roll out has progressed, so confidence has grown. Anti-vaxxers remain a very small number.
It is important to note that Israel is responsible for the vaccination of our own citizens. To date, Israel has vaccinated at least 14% of the population, soaring well past 1 million. Over the last few days, media outlets like The Guardian in the UK, Washington Post, MSNBC and others have accused Israel of almost purposefully neglecting to vaccinate the Palestinian populations. It is almost sadly predictable that as soon as Israel is lauded for an achievement in a certain area, the naysayers in the global media have to find some kind of stick to beat the Jewish state with.
Far be it for them to do some research and find out the facts. Throughout this pandemic, Israel through NGO’s like Project Rozana has helped with ventilators and medical staff training and ensured that much needed equipment is received. The Palestinian Authority has made their position quite clear at times when it comes to accepting help.
Who can forget Palestinian obstinate rejection of thousands of tons of Covid aid from the United Arab Emirates because the plane had “landed at Ben Gurion Airport and had been organised in coordination with Israel”?
But now that Israel is enjoying positive coverage for the most part, agenda-driven media outlets cannot let this continue. It is nothing new. If Israel sets up the first mobile hospital after a disaster, we are accused of harvesting organs; if Israel celebrates the advancement of the status of women we are accused of deliberately crushing the rights of Palestinians; if a hit TV show like Fauda enjoys international acclaim, the show content must be violating international humanitarian law.
The Palestinian Authority has been quite clear on the issue of vaccines. A senior official from the Palestinian Health Ministry said that Palestinians do not expect Israel to sell them or purchase vaccines on their behalf. They are working with the World Health Organisation to purchase Russian-made vaccines as well as others that should arrive within the coming weeks. The Official, speaking to The Jerusalem Post said that “We are not a department in the Israeli Defense Ministry. We have our own government and Ministry of health and they are making huge efforts to get the vaccine.”
Jerusalem confirmed that Israel had not been asked for help from the Palestinians – nor would they refuse help if needed.
Israel is also not legally responsible for vaccinating the Palestinian population.
According to the Oslo Accords signed in 1995 the Agreement on Preparatory Transfer of Powers and Responsibilities Annex II Protocol Concerning Preparatory Transfer of Powers and Responsibilities in the Sphere of Health states:
The powers and responsibilities of the military government and its Civil Administration in the sphere of health will be transferred to and will be assumed by the Palestinian Authority.
The Palestinian Authority shall apply the present standards of vaccination of Palestinians and shall improve them according to internationally-accepted standards in the field.
The inference by media outlets like The Guardian that Israel is deliberately vaccinating “settlers” as the expense of Palestinians has led some in the Israeli press to call it a modern day blood libel.
These kinds of accusations are not trivial mistakes with facts. Comments like “medical Apartheid” and “deliberately excluding Palestinians” are dangerous because these are the receipts used by the anti-Israel establishment and organisations like BDS to spread libel and push their hate-filled, antisemitic agenda.
In the past, responsible journalists and publications were driven by truth and facts – and not clickbait and blatant agenda pushing. This is not a case of “lazyitis” but perhaps another nefarious virus that sadly, there is no vaccine for.
The only cure for this is facts.
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