Here’s the headline of a Jan. 9th Independent article by their Middle East correspondent Bel Trew:
Whilst the article repeated the media misinformation that we’ve previously refuted about Israel’s alleged responsibility to provide millions of Palestinians with COVID vaccines, here’s the specific claim in the piece that inspired the headline:
Gerald Rockenschaub, the head of the WHO’s mission to the Palestinians, told The Independent the UN body had requested that Israel help provide Covid-19 jabs to cover Palestininan health workers; nearly 8,000 Palestinian medics have reportedly been infected by the virus, impacting their coronavirus response.
He said that Israel had declined the request for now, citing issues with shortages for their own population.
We were skeptical of the accusation, so decided to ask the Israeli body that would have received, and possessed the authority to approve, such a request – Israel’s Health Ministry.
Here’s their response:
In a follow-up phone call, a Health Ministry spokesperson confirmed to us that, as we suspected, any such official request by WHO (or any other international body) to Israel for Palestinian vaccines would necessarily have to go through their office.
Further, there’s no indication that Ms. Trew contacted the Health Ministry to comment on the claim by WHO’s Gerald Rockenschaub .
Earlier, we tweeted Ms. Trew and Mr. Rockenschaub, and filed an official complaint with editors at the Independent – and recently learned that the article has been revised, with new sentences added. They are now only claiming that there was an “informal discussion” between WHO and Israel, with the word “informal” added to the original sentence:
Israel has refused an informal request from the World Health Organisation (WHO) to immediately make Covid-19 vaccines available to Palestinian medical workers to avert a health disaster, citing shortages of the jabs for their own citizens.
Later in the article, this sentence was added:
After publication, the WHO clarified that this had taken place during “informal discussions with the Israeli Ministry of health about whether vaccine supplies could be allocated to vaccinate the Palestinian health workforce as an immediate priority target group.
“The Israeli Ministry of health indicated they would explore this option but were currently not in a position to supply vaccines because of a shortage of vaccines in Israel.”
This sentence was also added:
The Israeli health ministry officials later denied they had received a request from the WHO for vaccines for Palestinians.
So, though the headline hasn’t changed, or the claim in the opening sentence that Israel “refused” WHO’s request, the new text implicitly acknowledges that Israel, during these informal discussions, said they would consider it, and that the narrative still being pushed by the piece is grossly misleading.
The following note was added at the bottom of the article:
This article was updated on 10 January, to include responses the [sic] WHO and the Israeli embassy in London