The Israeli Health Ministry reported on Wednesday, December 30, that the total number of residents in the country inoculated against COVID-19 is currently more than 500,000. However, Israeli Public Security Minister Amir Ohana has issued a directive preventing Palestinians detained by Israel from receiving vaccinations, in violation of mandatory Health Ministry guidelines.
Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel sent an urgent letter to senior Israeli officials demanding they act to immediately reverse the decision to block Palestinians designated by Israel as “security prisoners” from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Ohana had ordered the vaccination of Israeli prison workers only.
Adalah General Director Attorney Hassan Jabareen sent a letter to Ohana and Israel Prison Service (IPS) demanding that they move to revoke Ohana’s decision to prevent Palestinian prisoners from being vaccinated. Jabareen also called on Israel to refrain from infringing upon the health and human rights of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli facilities, as authorities have been doing on a consistent basis since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.
Hadash MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List) had earlier sent a letter to the Public Security Ministry directing that vaccinations must be provided to those in high-risk groups and to individuals over the age of 60, specifying that the IPS must vaccinate prisoners under its care in accordance with these standards. MK Touma-Sliman stressed that the Israeli Public Security Ministry’s directive to exclude Palestinian prisoners from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine constitutes a violation of the prisoners’ health and medical rights and, similarly, violates Israeli Health Ministry instructions as well as professional medical ethics which guarantee equal treatment for all.
Adalah’s Atty. Jabareen commented: “Ohana’s decision to exclude Palestinian prisoners from receiving COVID-19 vaccinations is racist. This is a violation of prisoners’ basic and medical rights and of international laws and conventions, which Israel is obligated to uphold. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Israeli authorities have violated the medical and human rights of prisoners during the COVID-19 outbreak.”