Human Rights Watch on Sunday called on the Israeli authorities to provide coronavirus vaccines to the more than 4.5 million Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, Anadolu Agency reported.
In a statement, the New York-based rights group said Israel has ignored the plight of Palestinians living under its military rule.
“While Israel has already vaccinated more than 20 percent of its citizens, including Jewish settlers in the West Bank, it has not committed to vaccinating Palestinians living in the same occupied territory under its military rule,” the HRW said.
On Jan. 7, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the acceleration of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign to ensure that it is completed by the end of March.
The rights organization called on Tel Aviv to fulfill its obligations “under the Fourth Geneva Convention to ensure medical supplies” which it said are “heightened after more than 50 years of occupation with no end in sight.”
“These responsibilities, alongside its obligations under international human rights law, include providing vaccines in a nondiscriminatory manner to Palestinians living under its control, using as a benchmark what it provides for its own citizens.”
“The fact that Israeli citizens, including settlers in the West Bank, are receiving vaccines at one of the most rapid rates in the world indicates that Israel has the ability to provide the vaccines to at least some Palestinians in the occupied territory, but has chosen to leave them unprotected,” HRW said.
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the number of coronavirus cases has exceeded 170,000, including 1861 deaths, since March.
On Monday, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh announced that his government has taken “all financial and administrative measures in order to obtain the first batch” of the vaccine, without giving further details on the date of its arrival.