Demanding Healthcare Rights for Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank

2 September 2021
A Man Holds a Woman's Hand

NIF grantee Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI) issued a new report exposing the striking disparities between the Israeli and Palestinian health systems in the era of COVID-19. The report said that Israel has shirked its responsibilities in the Occupied Territories over the past year, “Doing no more than providing minor humanitarian gestures on an extremely limited scale. The Israeli government rejected recommendations made by medical experts and did not supply the Palestinians with a sufficient quantity of vaccines. Moreover, while Israel has vaccinated status-less individuals residing in Israel [such as asylum seekers], it has refused to do so for status-less Palestinians from the Occupied Territories in Israel.”

The report not only highlighted the far lower vaccination and testing rates in the Occupied Territories when compared to Israel but also the shortage of ventilators (10 per 100,000 people compared with 50 per 100,000 people in Israel).

Beyond COVID-19, PHRI notes that average life expectancy is seven years shorter (75.9 vs 82.8) and infant mortality four times higher in the Occupied Territories than it is inside Israel. Palestinians are far more likely to die of heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s than their Israeli counterparts. In Israel, $3,145 is spent per capita on healthcare. In the territories, that number is just $306.

The Director of PHRI’s Department for Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, Ghada Majadli, said, “As long as Israeli occupation and control prevent Palestinians from realizing their right to health on their own, Israel is duty-bound to arrange for accessible, top-notch medical services. Israel is obligated to take action to supply treatments and offset shortages in equipment and infrastructure that are unavailable in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israel must also remove the obstructions it has imposed that hinder the development of an independent Palestinian healthcare system.”