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Covid-19: Israel to vaccinate Palestinian prisoners from next week

Israel's health minister made the announcement after President Reuven Rivlin criticised plans to exclude prisoners from vaccination programme
Israel has been criticised for shirking its responsibilities as an occupying power by failing to deliver vaccines to millions of Palestinians living in the Occupied West Bank (AFP)

Israel said it would begin administering Palestinian prisoners with the Covid-19 vaccine from next week as part of its nationwide vaccination programme.

Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein confirmed on Thursday that Israel would vaccinate Palestinian prisoners after President Reuven Rivlin said failure to vaccinate prisoners went against Israel's democratic values. 

Rivlin said he was concerned by reports that prisoners would not be given priority and asked the health ministry about its vaccination plans for the incarcerated. 

Earlier this week, five Israeli human rights groups petitioned Israel's Supreme Court to rule against Public Security Minister Amir Ohana's directive to not vaccinate Palestinian prisoners.

Adalah, the legal centre for Arab minority rights, said the decision to exclude Palestinian prisoners violates their rights.

Israel has boasted that it is surpassing other nations with its vaccination campaign against the Covid-19 virus. But the virus has continued to claim high numbers of infections in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip. 

The country has been criticised for shirking its responsibilities as an occupying power by failing to deliver vaccines to millions of Palestinians living in the West Bank. 

On Monday, an official at the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that Israeli authorities had rebuffed a request to supply vaccines for Palestinian health workers, citing shortages.  

Gerald Rockenschaub, head of the WHO's mission to the Palestinian territory, said his organisation had requested Israel to provide the jabs.