Israel To Start Vaccinating Palestinian Prisoners Next Week

Members of the Palestinian Detainee Society phase a presentation outside the International Committee of the Red Cross building, demanding the World Health Organization put pressure on Israeli authorities to vaccinate Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, in Gaza City, on Jan. 3.

Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency through Getty Images

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Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency through Getty Images

Members of the Palestinian Prisoner Society phase a demonstration outside the International Committee of the Red Cross building, demanding the World Health Organization put pressure on Israeli authorities to immunize Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons, in Gaza City, on Jan. 3.

Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The decision comes amid a bigger debate about whether Israel, which is leading the world in vaccinations per capita, ought to make sure vaccines for the Palestinian public in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, which is blockaded by Israel and Egypt.

Edelstein says Israel has likewise supplied vaccines for about 100 Palestinian medical workers in the West Bank. The Palestinian Health Ministry says it requested vaccines for its medical workers, however denies Israel supplied any.

Ohana apparently objected to immunizing Palestinian detainees convicted of attacks on Israelis. He instructed just jail staff to be immunized for the time being, leaving out all Palestinian and israeli prisoners, Herbst says.

” In this case, youre discussing terrorists, but also other criminals,” Edelstein says. “There are great deals of people together 24/7, and as we all know, this kind of circumstance often leads to infection.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross and rights groups have repeatedly contacted Israel to immunize Palestinian prisoners. However in late December, Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, who supervises of jails, instructed jail officials not to do so.

Palestinian detainees have actually contracted the coronavirus, including 30 in a single jail who evaluated positive Thursday, Israel Prison Services spokesperson Hana Herbst tells NPR.

Israels health minister announced Thursday the country would vaccinate Palestinian prisoners versus COVID-19, after Israels president said withholding vaccines protested Israels Jewish and democratic values.

“The typical policy of every nation is to immunize its own citizens. Thats what they pay taxes for,” Edelstein stated.

Israel is not offering vaccines to the Palestinian public in the West Bank and Gaza.

Israel has actually immunized a bigger share of its population than any other nation. About 20% of the population– including Palestinian Arab people of Israel and Palestinian residents of Jerusalem– has actually been immunized.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said the prisoners would be immunized early next week, on Monday or Tuesday. The minister announced the decision first to NPR.

About 4,700 Palestinian detainees and prisoners are held in Israeli prisons, accused or convicted of crimes ranging from entering Israel illegally to attacking and killing Israelis.

Human rights groups petitioned Israels Supreme Court to reverse the restriction on Palestinian prisoners. On Monday, Israels defense minister also called for vaccination of prisoners. On Thursday, President Reuven Rivlin advised the health minister to vaccinate all prisoners.

In recent weeks, the Palestinian Authority signed its own deals to get vaccines for the West Bank and Gaza from a World Health Organization program, in addition to from Russia, AstraZeneca and other drug makers. Vaccines are anticipated to show up in the Palestinian territories in the coming months.

“Preventing life-saving medical treatment from people in prison– whether due to a sentence imposed on them by the court or due to detention prior to reaching a verdict– is inconsistent with our worths, the values of the Jewish and democratic state,” Rivlin wrote in a letter to Edelstein.