Palestinian student refused vaccine at Tel Aviv University

Palestinian student refused Covid-19 vaccine at Tel Aviv University inoculation drive
3 min read
04 March, 2021
Israel’s health ministry objected to giving the vaccine to a Palestinian student at Tel Aviv University despite a campus-wide inoculation drive.
The student came from the West Bank [Getty]
A Palestinian student from the occupied West Bank was refused a Covid-19 vaccine at Tel Aviv University during a campus-wide inoculation drive.

Tel Aviv University sent an email to students and faculty earlier in February to announce the launch of the on-campus vaccination centre.

The move was part of Israel's efforts to “vaccinate the population against the coronavirus,” in cooperation with Magen David Adom, Israel’s emergency medical service, according to +972mag.

“The vaccine will be made available to the entire university community — workers and students, who have yet to receive their first dose,” the e-mail read.

A Palestinian student from the occupied West Bank said she was initially told that she qualifies for the vaccine.

Read more: Israel says giving 'unused' vaccines to Palestinians

However, when she arrived, the medical staff asked her for ID or proof of health insurance.

“After they realised I am Palestinian, they told me that this is impossible — that they could not enter my name into the system and I cannot be vaccinated,” she said.

“I stood there and watched everyone get the vaccine and leave,” she continued. “I was the only one who didn’t get vaccinated. It’s unfair to just stand there and watch everyone get their vaccine.”

Other Palestinian students who are from the occupied West Bank and not Israeli citizens, were also turned away.

In a letter sent to the university administration, she described how she waited at the university’s makeshift vaccine site for six hours, noting administrators gave her various reasons as to why she could not receive the shot.

Among the excuses provided with her lack of Israeli health insurance.

Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority over supplying the latter with vaccinations for Palestinians in the West Bank were also among the reasons mentioned.

However, the Palestinian dismissed these as excuses and said organisers at the university were already aware of her situation when confirming her eligibilty. 

“Yesterday, I went through one of the toughest awakening experiences to know that to the system I am less of a human, less of a student, and I am not entitled to the same rights,” she wrote in a letter to the institute.

“During that long day, many approached me to express their apologies,” she added.

“I don’t have a problem with individuals, on the contrary, they were very nice and supportive.”

One university representative even offered to compensate her for the travel expenses from the West Bank to Tel Aviv for the time she wasted travelling for the vaccine - an offer she found insulting.

“I want justice and equality, not charity,” she said in the letter. 

In its response, Tel Aviv University blamed the incident on the government's policies and said action was being taken to rectify the situation for its students.

“Unfortunately, the staff who were there refused to vaccinate a female student living in the [West Bank] in light of the sweeping policy established by the health ministry, which, so far, has not allowed for vaccinating Palestinians,” the institute said.

“In the wake of the incident, the university president wrote a letter to the director general of the health ministry on the same day, requesting a plan that would allow Palestinian students with an entry permit into Israel for the purpose of studies to be vaccinated the same way all other students are.”

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