Medical Apartheid in Israel-Palestine

Independent Jewish Voice Canada has applauded Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem for issuing reports finding that Israeli authorities are committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution. It is important to understand how Israeli apartheid operates as a system by denying Palestinians access to healthcare resources.

IJV denounces the growing inequality in access to healthcare for Palestinians, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. We call on the Israeli government to abide by its obligations under the 4th Geneva Convention as an occupying power to ensure that Palestinians in the oPt receive essential health services. Moreover, we call on the Canadian government to apply pressure on Israel until it meets these obligations under international law. 

Some facts on medical apartheid in Israel-Palestine:

  • In February 2021, a new report found that Israel’s ongoing 13-year siege of the Gaza Strip has exacerbated the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.
  • February 16, 2021: Democracy Now reported that Israel has halted the shipment of 2,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to the Gaza Strip, where they were due for medical workers. The besieged territory is home to more than two million people but has yet to receive any vaccines. This comes as Israeli health officials reported a nearly 95% drop in symptomatic coronavirus infections among 600,000 Israelis who received Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. About 30% of Israeli citizens have received at least one vaccine dose — the highest rate of any major nation — but that figure excludes Palestinians in the Occupied Territories who remain largely unvaccinated.  
  • March 25, 2021: According to the United Nations Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices, the number of vaccines received so far by the Palestinian people represents only a ‘drop in the sea’. The committee stated that “after recent annual consultations with Member States, the United Nations Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices today expressed deep concern over reports that Israel, while donating surplus COVID-19 vaccines overseas, has failed to fulfill its international legal responsibility and obligation to ensure the vaccination of the Palestinian population”. In February, Israel sent vaccines to Guatemala and Honduras – two countries that moved their embassies to Jerusalem. 
  • According to Ha’aretz,  additional vaccine doses will allow Israel to provide booster shots to entire population through 2022. 
  • As of March 25, 2021, more than half of Israel’s population had been fully vaccinated, while the same was true for only 3% of Palestinians in the occupied territories. The population of Israel/Palestine is approximately equally divided, with 6.8 million Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and within Israel’s green line. The West Bank and Gaza Strip have received only about 120,000 vaccine doses. According to the World Health Orgaization, as of April 30th, 83% of ICU hospital beds in the West Bank were occupied.

Dr. Alice Rothchild of the Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Council provides updates on the current Covid situation in Palestine (April 2021). 

What you can do

  • Support CJPME’s Help Gaza Breathe campaign to equip hospitals in Gaza with lifesaving oxygen.
  • Tell US Congress: Demand that Israel provide the COVID-19 vaccination to Palestinians.
  • Click here to view slides from a presentation by Dr. Alice Rothchild of the Jewish Voice for Peace Health Advisory Council on the COVID-19 situation in Palestine (April 2021). 

Further reading