Occupied Palestine (QNN)- The United Nations stressed that the occupation state has a legal duty to ensure that Palestinians get all the necessary health services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The legal duty, anchored in Article 56 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, requires that Israel, the occupying power, must ensure that all the necessary preventive means available to it are utilized to ‘combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics,’” said Michael Lynk, UN Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967.
He added that the occupation state, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas bear the duty to provide essential health services and apply public health measures throughout this pandemic in a non-discriminatory fashion, the expert said.
“The right to dignity requires that all persons under their authority should enjoy equality of access to health services and equality of treatment,” he said.
Lynk also expressed his concern that the initial publications to increase awareness about the spread of COVID-19 issued by the Israeli Ministry of Health were almost exclusively in Hebrew, with virtually no information posted in Arabic.
He added that “any restrictions on human rights – such as access to health services or freedom of movement – must be strictly justified, proportionate and should only be curtailed for a length of time no longer than necessary and in a non-discriminatory manner.”
Lynk has previously stressed that the occupation state is in “profound breach” of its international obligations with regards the right to health of Palestinians living under occupation. Significant movement restrictions on patients and health workers already compromise Palestinians’ access to healthcare services. In the context of COVID-19, where patients’ conditions deteriorate rapidly as symptoms become more severe, any delays getting to hospital can be fatal.