In a side event to HRC 46: Israel’s Health Apartheid Must Be Recognized and Condemned by UN and Member States

In Arab Countries, International Advocacy Program by CIHRS

On 16 March 2021, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) held a joint webinar titled “Israeli Health Apartheid during COVID-19” in parallel to the 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, co-hosted with civil society partners, moderated by  CIHRS. The webinar was attended by diplomats, representatives from UN agencies and civil society organizations.

In her intervention, UN Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng, said:  “More than 4.5 million Palestinians will remain unprotected and exposed to Covid-19, while in this case Israeli citizens living near and among them – including the Israeli settler population – will be vaccinated. Morally and legally, when you are using the bedrock of human rights as your compass, we know this differential access to necessary health care in the midst of the worst global health crisis in a century is unacceptable.”

During the event, Palestinian civil society addressed the impacts of the global pandemic, which have brought into sharper focus Israel’s denial of the right to health to the Palestinian people as part of its commission of the crime of apartheid. Seven decades of Israel’s institutionalized racial domination and oppression have resulted in wide disparities between Israeli and Palestinian access to healthcare and Palestinians’ broader enjoyment of the right to health.

Speakers[1] from Addameer, Al-Haq, Al Mezan, JLAC and WCLAC focused on the impact of the Israel’s regime of institutionalized racial domination and oppression over the Palestinian people on the right to health, including the denial of equal access to life-saving COVID-19 vaccines, the deliberate underdevelopment of the health sector in the West Bank and Gaza, Israel’s medical neglect of Palestinian detainees and prisoners, and the disproportionate impacts of Israeli policies, including demolitions and evictions, on Palestinian women and girls.

Civil society organizations called on UN Member States to recognize Israel’s  establishment of  an apartheid regime over the Palestinian people as a whole, and urged them to take effective measures toward bringing the illegal situation to an end. In the context of the ongoing pandemic, organizations called on the international community to ensure that Israel upholds its responsibility as the Occupying Power to respect, protect, and fulfill the right of health for all Palestinians under Israel’s effective control, including by providing Palestinians with equal access to vaccines.

In her closing remarks Special Rapporteur Dr. Mofokeng added, “As someone who lived and grew up in apartheid South Africa, I don’t have to imagine or read textbook research to understand what’s happening and the urgency of the issues” in Palestine.

You can view the webinar here.


[1] Speakers included Budour Hassan from the Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center, Nuriya Oswald from Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Milena Ansari from Addameer, Shahd Qaddoura from Al Haq, and Amal Abusrour from the Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling.


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