Israel’s Health Ministry has increased the information it provides in Arabic about the COVID-19 pandemic after an advocacy campaign by NIF grantees Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and Zazim – Community Action.
In an urgent campaign to the Ministry of Health, Adalah wrote, “Israel is failing to provide essential real-time coronavirus updates and public health information in Arabic for Palestinian citizens of Israel who make up roughly a fifth of the country’s total population.”
The campaign demanded that all information and directives relating to COVID-19 be immediately made accessible to the Arabic-speaking public on all its communications platforms, social media, and smartphone apps.
Zazim also ran a petition demanding that the Ministry of Health make all information about coronavirus accessible in Arabic. The petition generated over 3,000 signatures.
Adalah Attorney Aiah Haj Odeh wrote, “The Israeli government has been discriminating against Palestinian citizens for years, failing to provide essential information and services in Arabic. There is now an urgent public interest in regular, real-time updates – accessible in all languages – relating to coronavirus. Inequality in access to information can harm all citizens. The coronavirus does not discriminate according to the ethnic identity of its victims, and the Israeli Health Ministry must therefore provide equal services for all citizens.”
Despite the extra efforts being taken by Israel’s Health Ministry in disseminating information in Arabic, Aiah Haj Odeh observes that the information is not transmitted in real time and is still missing essential details, including the latest guidelines for individuals required to remain in quarantine. Adalah stresses that there is still no information in Arabic on Health Ministry social media platforms and the ministry’s coronavirus app is not offered in Arabic.