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5 Rights Groups Urge Israel to Inoculate Palestinian Prisoners against COVID-19

5 Rights Groups Urge Israel to Inoculate Palestinian Prisoners against COVID-19

Monday, 11 January, 2021 - 09:15
Palestinian prisoners at Gilboa prison. (AFP file)

Five human rights organizations in Israel submitted a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court to force Minister of Public Security Amir Ohana to vaccinate Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails against COVID-19.

The mover was made after he had decreed that the detainees would not receive the vaccine.

The joint petition was signed by the Adalah Legal Center, Association for Civil Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, Center for the Defense of the Individual, and Rabbis for Human Rights.

The organizations demanded that the court order the Israel Prison Service (IPS) to inoculate all prisoners against COVID-19, especially those over the age of 60.

It demanded that the Prison Service prohibit opting to vaccinate Israeli detainees over Palestinian political prisoners.

The petition also included a medical report issued by the Association of Public Health Physicians of the Israeli Medical Association asserting that prisoners must be treated as a captive population.

“In the context of COVID-19, this is considered an at-risk population, both due to preexisting health issues and to the overcrowded conditions that increase the risk of infection and mortality.”

Ohana's decision against vaccinating Palestinian prisoners was also criticized by Israel’s attorney general Avichai Mandelblit, who said the minister does not have the authority to make such an order.

Ohana retorted, explaining that all the agencies that are part of the Ministry of Public Security fall under his jurisdiction and he will be held accountable before the public, stressing that he will not change his position.

Adalah described the decision as “racist”, saying it violates the basic and medical rights of prisoners and defies international laws and conventions, which Israel signed and is bound to implement.

The organization noted this was not the first time Israeli authorities have violated prisoner rights during the coronavirus outbreak.

In its letter to Ohana and IPS acting director Asher Vaknin, Adalah demanded that they revoke the decision to prevent Palestinian prisoners from being vaccinated.

Adalah stressed that the new orders violate Israeli Health Ministry instructions and professional medical ethics, which guarantee equal treatment for all.

It condemned the distinction between criminal prisoners and Palestinian prisoners, saying it is neither professional nor objective, especially that this is a dangerous virus and excluding prisoners violates the principle of equality and the right to life.

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