Prisoners in Israeli jails to get vaccines next week

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Prisoners in Israeli jails to get vaccines next week

Palestinians held in prisons will also get the jab despite resistance from Israel's public security minister

Prison (Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash)
Prison (Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash)

Prisoners in Israeli jails will be offered Covid-19 vaccinations from early next week, Israeli health minister Yuli Edelstein has said, adding that this includes Palestinian inmates.

Israel’s Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, a member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, has been resisting calls to vaccinate thousands of Palestinians in Israeli jails, prompting intervention from Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and organisations such as the International Red Cross.

Edelstein told NPR that jabs would be administered from Monday or Tuesday, adding that Israel would also be providing vaccines for around 100 Palestinian medical staff working in the West Bank.

Referring to Ohana’s position and the problems it could cause, Edelstein said: “Instead of arguing, imagine how a prisoner might not be vaccinated and then medical staff and equipment might need to be wasted on them.”

Rivlin was also scathing. “Preventing life-saving medical treatment from people in prison, whether due to a sentence imposed on them by the court or due to detention prior to sentencing, is inconsistent with our values, the values ​​of the state, Judaism, and democracy,” he said.

Ohana, who is Israel’s first openly gay cabinet minister, was also told by Israel’s attorney-general that his order not to vaccinate prisoners was given “without authority” because the Health Ministry decides who should be vaccinated.

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