4,000 Palestinian children refused polio vaccination by Israel
Palestinian men prepare to jump using a rope over a section of Israel's controversial concrete barrier that separates the West Bank from Jerusalem on August 12, 2013, in Beit Hanina, in Israeli annexed east Jerusalem. (AFP)
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Tens of thousands of Palestinian children from the occupied East Jerusalem have been denied their right to get the polio vaccination in a nationwide campaign conducted by the Israeli Ministry of Health, a move the residents of the holy city have labelled as racist and fascist.
Families from Kofr Aqab of the occupied East Jerusalem were turned back on Wednesday after they approached the Motherhood and Childhood centres for the polio vaccinations and were told that they were not on the Israeli Health Ministry’s list for vaccination.
“Although vaccination is a basic and holy right for the children, the Israeli authorities have denied 20,000 children of the age group one month to nine years old the polio vaccination on no logic ground,” said Sameeh Abu Rumailah, the local Coordinator of the vaccine and community leader in Kofr Aqab, a village within the boundaries of occupied Jerusalem in an interview with Gulf News.
“The Kofr Aqab families have been told that the medical centres were not authorized to vaccinate their children as the centres never received instructions from the Ministry of Health,” he said. “Racism has reached the vaccination of the little ones; this surpasses logic and is insane.”
A total of 4,000 children were ready for the vaccination and their families had brought them to the centres. All were turned back and instructed to never to show up at the medical centres. A total of 80,000 Palestinians live in the village of Kofr Aqab, and that they are all holders of the Israeli identity cards issued for Arab residents of the holy city. “Israel targets the residents of the village of Kofr Aqab in particular in a systematic way to separate them from the residents of the rest of the Arab neighbourhoods although Kofr Aqab is officially located within the boundaries of the occupied East Jerusalem,” he said.
“Health services and all other kinds of services have been denied and withdrawn for the residents of the village who have ended up with no rights at all.” The Israeli Health Ministry is currently conducting a nationwide polio vaccination programme for all children after thousands of people were found to be carriers. “It is in the Israeli vital interest to vaccinate the Kofr Aqab children to spare the Israeli children possible infection in the near future,” he said. The residents of Kofr Aqab will address this issue with other community leaders in occupied East Jerusalem to find a solution to the dispute. “We will not keep our mouths shut when our little ones are endangered,” Sameeh Abu Rumailah warned.