Israel Deprives Gaza Population of Covid-19 Vaccine
Date: 16 February 2021
Time: 10:20 GMT
On Monday, 15 February 2021, Israeli authorities denied the entry of 2000 doses of Coronavirus vaccine into the Gaza Strip. These doses were sent from the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MOH) in Ramallah, but Israeli authorities refused their entry as the political leadership in Israel had not yet approved the Palestinian Authority’s request to transfer the vaccine to Gaza.
The Palestinian Minister of Health, Dr. May Al-Kailah emphasized in a press statement that the Israeli authorities prevented the entry of 2000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine into the Gaza Strip. She added that Israeli authorities bear full responsibility for this arbitrary action contrary to all customs, laws and international conventions. Al-Kailah also said that these doses were designated for medical personnel caring of Covid-19 patients in the Intensive Care Units (ICU) as well as for medical staff in the emergency departments. Al-Kailah affirmed that the Palestinian government and the MOH are in contact with international organizations to supply the Gaza Strip with Covid-19 vaccine as quickly as possible.
This decision by the Israeli authorities comes at a time when the Gaza health sector is crumbling and the coronavirus is spreading; to date, 53,593 persons contracted the virus, while 537 died (50,505 recovered and 2,551 active cases).
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) warns of the serious consequences of the Israeli refusal to allow the entry of Covid-19 vaccine into the Gaza Strip, and reminds that the Gaza healthcare facilities are exhausted due to 14 years of Israeli closure policy, with a persistent shortage of basic medicines and medical devices and specialized medical personnel, making the healthcare system unable to meet the Gaza Strip’s basic health needs in regular times and to provide the medical services necessary for the Gaza Strip population.
The status of health facilities in Gaza aggravated following the outbreak of coronavirus as they suffered shortage in the coronavirus testing materials and intensive care units, respirators, and coronavirus diagnostic equipment, medicines, medical consumables, and protective gear to prepare it to combat the coronavirus.
In light of its fear that all efforts aiming at curbing the outbreak of Covid-19 in the Gaza Strip may fail due to the Israeli entry ban on Covid-19 vaccine, PCHR:
- reaffirms that the primary responsibility for providing medical supplies to the Gaza Strip population, including Covid-19 vaccine, lies with Israel in accordance with Articles 55 and 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949; and
- Calls upon the international community and the WHO to put pressure on Israel and compel it to comply with its obligations and allow the entry of all medical supplies into the Gaza Strip, especially Covid-19 vaccine.