COVID-19 Vaccination in Palestine/Israel: Citizenship, Capitalism, and the Logic of Elimination

Nicolas Howard, Emily Schneider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Despite Israel’s responsibility under international law to combat the spread of contagious diseases and epidemics in its occupied territories, Israeli officials have refused to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Through a critical discourse analysis of Israeli officials’ statements regarding Israel’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign, this paper explores how Israel evades this responsibility while presenting itself as committed to public health and human rights. We find that Israeli officials strategically present Palestinians as an autonomous nation when discussing COVID-19 vaccinations, despite Israel’s ongoing attempts to prevent the creation of a Palestinian state. Relatedly, Israel justifies its refusal to vaccinate Palestinians on the grounds of the Palestinian Authority’s economic independence, thereby obscuring Israel’s control over the Palestinian economy. In this way, Israel relies on citizenship and economic inequality, as internationally sanctioned forms of exclusion, to deny Palestinians their right to health. Drawing on theorists such as Michel Foucault, Achille Mbembe, and Jasbir Puar, we argue that withholding vaccines from Palestinians reveals the ways that Israel furthers its settler-colonial aims under the guise of liberal humanitarianism and economic growth. Instead of directing these conclusions toward Israel as an exceptional case, we contend that these processes reveal how settler-colonial societies use liberal frameworks of citizenship and capitalism to carry out their racialized projects of elimination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-279
Number of pages15
JournalHealth and Human Rights
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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