The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Israel‑Palestine:
Unequal Prisoners in the Face of the Coronavirus

Jan 4, 2021

The following is a translation from Lutte Ouvrière, the newspaper of the revolutionary workers organization active in France.

Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails will not be entitled to the coronavirus vaccine until further notice.

These are the instructions of Likud Minister of Internal Security Amir Ohana, given on December 26 to the Israeli prison service. This instruction concerns high security prisoners, who are in fact all Palestinian political prisoners, a large part of whom are placed in administrative detention by arbitrary decision of the Israeli authorities—without charge or trial.

This discriminatory decision comes on top of the deadline set by the Israeli government for the vaccination of the inhabitants of the Palestinian territories. However, they are more vulnerable if only because of the high population density in West Bank cities, East Jerusalem and Gaza, which will also depend on Israel for vaccination.

However, in terms of vulnerability, Palestinian political prisoners are on the front line, given their conditions of detention, overcrowding, and their frequently poor state of health. Gilboa prison, in the northeast of the country, has also been closed due to the spread of infection among inmates.

The government prides itself on being at the forefront in the fight against COVID-19, having been one of the first to launch large‑scale vaccination, starting with Prime Minister Netanyahu. The political maneuver of the Minister of Internal Security appears even more clearly for what it is: an element of the campaign of the right wing in power in an electoral context. The Knesset, the Israeli parliament, has in fact just been dissolved following the breakup of the coalition between Netanyahu and Gantz, respectively at the head of the Likud and the Blue‑White party. A new legislative election, the fourth in two years, should therefore take place in March 2021. To sweep in the direction of the militarist, religious, racist and pro‑colonization far right, the hunt for the most reactionary votes is therefore open.

Palestinians in general and political prisoners in particular will suffer the consequences, as the government also begins a third lockdown in an attempt to stem the circulation of the virus. This episode recalls once again the scandal of the continued detention of 4,400 Palestinian political prisoners. Their release would be the first necessity!