Yossi Schwartz, Internationalist Socialist League (RCIT Section in Israel / Occupied Palestine), 21.06.2021, http://the-isleague.com
While we do not know yet what will be the side effects of the vaccines against Coronavirus and whether it is effective against another round of COVID 19, it is clear that these vaccines have been effective for now. Israel is proof of it. Yet even on this issue Zionist racism against the Palestinians has manifested for many months. Israel transported batches of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine deep inside the West Bank, but they have only been distributed to Jewish settlers, and not the roughly 2.7 million Palestinians living in the West Bank and the 2 million Palestinians in Gaza who have to wait for weeks or months.
“Only 100,000 Palestinians from the West Bank who work in Israel in low-paid jobs were immunized by Israel. By May 1st, 2021, only 3.6% of Palestinians had received at least one dose, and less than 1% were fully vaccinated. The PA has received 271,000 doses for use in the West Bank to date, including 100,000 from China and 58,000 from Russia. Most of the remainder were AstraZeneca doses sent through COVAX. Israel also donated 5,000 Moderna doses and 200 Pfizer doses for Palestinian medical workers.” (1)
For the moment it seemed that the new government decided that it will provide the Palestinians with the necessary vaccines. Under the terms of a deal with the Palestinian Authority announced on Friday morning, Israel promised to give more than one million Pfizer doses to the PA. In return, Israel would receive later this year the same number of vaccines that were purchased by the PA.
But then it was revealed by Israel that these vaccines are soon to expire within 14 days which means that the vaccines will likely endanger the lives of many thousands of people who will be vaccinated by expired vaccines.
Those who defend the deal argue that based on the Israeli experience these vaccines can be administered to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. But this false argument is based on willful ignorance. It is impossible to compare the medical infrastructure of Israel with the Palestinians’ medical infrastructure.
By the end of 2020, the State of Israel, with a population of 9.3 million, had administered more COVID-19 vaccine doses than all countries aside from China, the US, and the UK. Moreover, Israel had administered almost 11.0 doses per 100 population, while the next highest rates were 3.5 (in Bahrain) and 1.4 (in the United Kingdom). All other countries had administered less than 1 dose per 100 population.
“A great number of factors contributed to this early success, and they can be divided into three major groups. The first one is a, and well-developed infrastructure for implementing prompt responses to large-scale national emergencies. The second one includes: the organizational, IT, and logistical capacities of Israel’s community-based health care providers, the availability of a cadre of well-trained, salaried, community-based nurses who are directly employed by those providers, The third one includes: the mobilization of special government funding for vaccine purchase and distribution, and the ability as a rich state to buy a great number of vaccines relative to Israel’s population. Within two weeks from December 20, 2020, to the end of December Israel was able to administer 150,000 doses per day.” (2)
The situation of the Palestinians under the occupation and the destruction of the health system by Israel is different.
“On June 10 2021 Israel’s move to shut down a key healthcare body in the occupied territories will have “catastrophic consequences” for Palestinians in need of medical attention, global rights group Amnesty International warned. Israeli army forces raided the Palestinian Union of Health Workers Committee (UHWC) headquarters in Ramallah on Wednesday, breaking down the door, confiscating computers and memory drives, and issuing a military order forcing the office to close for six months.
The UHC runs hospitals and health clinics for marginalized communities and has repeatedly been targeted by Israeli forces, Amnesty said. Employees have faced harassment and arrest for the health providers’ alleged affiliation with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a political party with an armed wing. “Israel’s shutdown of its headquarters will have major consequences for the provision of essential health services to thousands of Palestinians, a program for women’s health that was at the headquarters has now stopped,” Saleh Higazi, Amnesty’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement.
He said “as the occupying power” Israel had “a clear obligation” under international law to protect the rights of all Palestinians – including their right to healthcare. “So far they have completely failed to fulfill this responsibility throughout the global pandemic, pursuing a discriminatory COVID-19 vaccination policy,” Higazi said. “Israeli authorities must immediately rescind the shutdown order and put an end to the harassment of health workers. He said the targeting of UHWC was part of a wider attack by Israel against Palestinian civil society organizations. “Instead of criminalizing organizations providing vital health services, the Israeli authorities should be ending their institutionalized discrimination and systematic oppression of Palestinians,” Higazi said.
Amnesty said UHWC has been at the forefront of the COVID-19 response in the occupied Palestinian Territories, raising awareness, offering public health guidance, and providing medical care to COVID-19 patients in its health facilities, as well as to hard-to-reach communities through mobile clinics. More than 310,000 Palestinians have contracted COVID-19 and the virus has killed 3,500 of them. The organization also leads local advocacy efforts to improve the Palestinian health system. Amnesty said this was not the first time that UHWC and its staff have been targeted by Israeli forces. Its Jerusalem office was shut down by Israeli authorities in 2015. Its Ramallah office, which was shut down on Wednesday, was previously raided in October 2019 – when its finance director was arrested. In March two other members of staff were arrested.” (3)
Thus, these vaccines under the actual circumstance are an empty gesture. This deal is denounced now by the Palestinians as a “political, health and moral scandal” of Israel and of the PA.
“But learning that the Israeli-supplied vaccines were about to expire, many Palestinians condemned the PA and accused it of “tampering” with the health of the Palestinian people. The vaccine exchange deal with the occupation authorities once again shows the lack of transparency in managing public affairs in general, and in managing the coronavirus pandemic in particular,” the Palestinian Coalition for Accountability and Integrity (AMAN) said in a statement. “It is illogical that the first source of information in an important issue related to the health of Palestinian citizens is the occupation. It is the responsibility of the Palestinian government, represented by the Ministry of Health, to announce the details of the deal before concluding it, to enhance the principle of transparency.” (4)
Under this pressure, the PA had to tell Israel that it rejected the deal. The PA Health Ministry had notified Israel that the vaccines must conform to all specifications and conditions of validity and safety. “After medical and technical teams received and inspected the first batch, it was found that the doses did not conform to the technical specifications as previously agreed upon and that their expiry date was close.” (5)
The question to ask is whether this is a case of criminal negligence on the part of the new Israeli government or an attempt to harm the health of thousands of Palestinians? In the best case, it is a case of willful blindness and a clumsy exercise in public relations for the benefit of the friends of the Zionist apartheid.
“Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz of the left Zionist party Meretz spoke with Al-Kaila on Friday and said the agreement will lower the COVID-19 numbers in the Palestinian Authority without reducing Israel’s stores of vaccines. Coronavirus does not recognize borders or differentiate between nations,” Horowitz said. “This important move is in the interest of all sides. I hope and believe this move will promote cooperation between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors in other areas, as well.” (6)
Nice but empty phrases, just music for the supporters of the Zionist apartheid!
While it is more likely that it is a case of crude criminal negligence or willful blindness, we should keep in mind that Israel has a poor record when it comes to the human rights of the Palestinians.
“Israel used biological weapons even before it was created on Arab soil in 1948 and ever since. The purpose, according to Ben Gurion, is genocide, and if not complete, the purpose is not to allow the dispossessed Palestinians to return to their homes.
POISONING ACRE WATER SUPPLY: In the wake of Haifa’s occupation on 23 April 1948 by the Zionists, under the nose of the British Mandate forces commanded by General Stockwell, a man still historically discredited for this failure, thousands converged on Acre, a nearby city, which was still Arab under the “protection” of the British forces.
Acre was to be the next Zionist target. The Zionists besieged the city from the land side and started showering the population with a hail of mortar bombs day and night. Famous for its historical walls, Acre could stand the siege for a long time. The city water supply comes from a nearby village, Kabri, about 10kms to the north, through an aqueduct. The Zionists injected typhoid in the aqueduct at some intermediate point which passes through Zionist settlements.
The story can now be told, thanks to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) files which have now become available, 50 years after the event. A series of reports, under the reference G59/1/GC, G3/82, sent by ICRC delegate de Meuron from 6 May to about 19 May 1948 describe the conditions of the city population, struck by a sudden typhoid epidemic, and the efforts to combat it.” (7)
Can we believe that the Zionists could poison the civil population in cold blood?
In Israel, a very famous poet Abba Kovner planned to poison millions of Germans after WWII as revenge for the Holocaust. He was one of the founders of a secret organization Nakam (revenge), also known as Dam Yisrael Noter (“the blood of Israel avenges”), with the acronym DIN meaning “judgment”. Two plans were formulated. Plan A was to kill a large number of German citizens by poisoning the water supplies of Hamburg, Frankfurt, Munich, and Nuremberg. Nakam intended to kill 6 million Germans. Plan B was to kill SS prisoners held in Allied POW camps. In pursuit of Plan A, members of the group were infiltrated into the water and sewage plants in several cities. According to the New York Times some Zionists (among them Abba Kovner) planned to poison millions of Germans after WWII.
“Imagine a real-life version of “Inglorious Bastards,” Quentin Tarantino’s quixotic movie about Jewish avengers in World War II — but in this case involving a plot by a band of refugees to kill millions of Germans just after the war by poisoning their water supply. The plot, which targeted five major cities in retribution for the Holocaust, failed. So did the conspirators’ Plan B, which followed in mid-April 1946: to murder 12,000 captured SS officers — members of the very unit that enforced the Nazis’ reign of terror and ran the death camps — by lacing their bread rations with arsenic. The second scheme was not a complete failure, however. Led by 21-year-old Joseph Harmatz, a survivor of the Vilnius ghetto in Lithuania, the plotters sickened more than 2,200 German prisoners, inducing vomiting and other symptoms of cholera. Their weapons were 3,000 loaves of black bread, which had been painted with a mixture of arsenic and glue at a bakery that had been infiltrated by one of the groups. Mr. Harmatz, who died at 91 on Sept. 22 at his home in Tel Aviv, never publicly expressed remorse for his role in either conspiracy. But later on, his son Ronel said on Tuesday, he did acknowledge privately, that he was grateful that the mass water-poisoning plot was abandoned after one of his collaborators was arrested.” (8)
That same Abba Kovner in the 1948 war was an educational officer in the Givati Brigade where he became known for his “battle pages”, headed “Death to the invaders!”, that called for revenge for the Holocaust and referred to the Egyptian enemy as vipers and dogs. The same Givati Brigades were involved in many major operations to uproot and cleanse the indigenous Palestinians. The mass expulsion, in some cases, was accompanied by massacres and rapes.
But whether this is a case of criminal negligence or a planned massive crime, it is a case of glaring racism of the settler colonialist’s imperialist state. Very similar to the way the European settler colonialists treated the native Americans and the Blacks in North America. No wonder the American ruling class has such a political sympathy for Israel!
Down with Racist Zionism!
Down with the new right-wing government that is no better than the government of Netanyahu!
For a free red Palestine from the river to the sea!
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We refer reader to a special sub-page on the RCIT website where we have compiled all our documents on the latest Gaza War and the Third Intifada: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/collection-of-articles-on-fourth-gaza-war/