With the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in Israel underway, false reports and accusations have been spreading online. These include the false accusation that Israel is excluding Palestinians from being vaccinated based on discriminatory decisions. Here are four points to consider:
As part of the Oslo Accords – the agreement that created an interim Palestinian self-government – Israel transferred powers and responsibilities over healthcare to the Palestinian National Authority (PNA).
Today, the Palestinian Ministry of Health is the major health care provider for Palestinians in the West Bank.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health has so far refused to coordinate vaccine purchasing and distribution with Israel, with a senior member saying “We have our own government and Ministry of Health, and they are making huge efforts to get the vaccine.”
The Ministry’s current assessment is that vaccine doses will arrive in February.
The Gaza Strip is administered by Hamas (a listed terrorist entity by Canada) following their seizure and expulsion of the PNA from the territory in 2007.
Despite the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, Israel continues to grant entry to tens of thousands of Palestinians who are treated in Israel’s hospitals.
In 2020, Israeli doctors held a COVID-19 training course for 20 medical workers from the Gaza strip. A group of doctors and nurses from the Gaza Strip (led by Hamas official Dr. Abdul Latif al-Hajj) were also welcomed into Israel for training.
The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov praised these coordination efforts as “excellent.”
Israel’s current vaccination campaign serves all citizens regardless of race, nationality or religion (i.e., Jews, Christians, Muslims, Druze, Circassians, etc), As well as Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Netanyahu recently visited a vaccination centre in the large Arab town of Umm al-Fahm to congratulate Israel’s one millionth’ recipient of the vaccine.
It is imperative that elected officials and journalists check the veracity of the information they share online.
Saying that Israelis are depriving Palestinians of healthcare suggests a troubling ignorance about who is responsible for delivering health services in the West Bank and Gaza. The Oslo Accords state clearly that delivery of healthcare is the responsibility Palestinian Authority. Following the expulsion of Fatah officials in a violent coup, in Gaza that responsibility has been assumed by the terrorist group Hamas.
Conspiracy theories of this nature can and do put Jewish lives at risk. It is a real, persistent, and growing concern. This type of dog-whistle has no place in Canada.