The coronavirus does not stop at checkpoints. As the occupier, Israel must provide medical supplies to the Palestinians and adopt measures to combat the disease there.
In Israel, more than five million people, or more than half of the population, have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and the number of cases is declining.
Just a few miles from Palestine, COVID cases are on the rise, all of its estimated 200 ventilators are in use, and the PA has announced it can no longer put other COVID patients on ventilators.
Why this disparity? Because Israel has refused to provide vaccines to the more than four million Palestinians living under its military rule.
In short, it is medical apartheid where one group has the privilege of being vaccinated while the other suffers under the weight of the disease, forcing doctors to make decisions about who lives and who dies.
Living under Israeli military rule means that virtually all decisions, especially regarding travel, are controlled by Israel. These rules apply to people and property as well. Israeli permission is required to send anything into or out of the West Bank or Gaza Strip. With no airport or seaport, anything sent to Palestinians must also pass through Israel – including vaccines.
To make matters worse, while refusing to provide vaccines to Palestinians, Israel sent vaccines to Guatemala and Honduras – two countries that have moved their embassies to Jerusalem in defiance of international law; countries whose actions further harm the Palestinians.
COVID-19 is not the only example of medical apartheid in Israel. Israel controls so many aspects of Palestinian life, including health care. It has even blocked medical supplies, like radiation therapy equipment for cancer treatment, from reaching Palestinian hospitals – leaving patients without home care options.
Many claim that Israel has no obligation to provide the COVID vaccine to the Palestinians. But they are wrong. International law firmly establishes that an occupier – which is Israel – must provide medical supplies and adopt measures to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics.
And beyond the law, what about the moral or ethical obligation to help?
This virus does not discriminate between those who are Christians, those who are Muslims and those who are Jews. It doesn’t stop at checkpoints. The time has come to end medical apartheid.
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.