Deputy A-G to Amir Ohana: Convicts, terrorists must receive vaccination

Amit Marari stressed that all convicts, including terrorists must receive the coronavirus vaccine.

INMATES WALK through the Hermon Prison in northern Israel last week. (photo credit: ELIYAHU KAMISHER)
INMATES WALK through the Hermon Prison in northern Israel last week.
(photo credit: ELIYAHU KAMISHER)
Deputy Attorney-General Amit Marari sent a letter to Public Security Minister Amir Ohana on Friday notifying him that his instruction to not vaccinate convicts in prisons at this stage was not under his authority to give.
Marari stressed that all convicts, including terrorists, must receive the coronavirus vaccine, reported Maariv, The Jerusalem Post’s sister publication.
Marari’s letter to Ohana comes about a week and a half after it was reported that Ohana had instructed all involved entities that prisoners should not receive coronavirus vaccines without his explicit approval before all Israel Prison Services (IPS) staff have been vaccinated.
Ohana responded immediately on Friday in a harsh letter addressed to Marari and to Health Ministry Deputy Director-General Itamar Grotto, stating that his instructions will not change.
“I have recently instructed that vaccinations must first be given to staff members of Israel’s prisons – who, unlike prisoners, come in and out of the facilities and thus pose a greater danger – before beginning the vaccination process of inmates,” Ohana wrote in his letter, noting that his decision “was coordinated with [his] colleague, the person in charge of Prof. Grotto, Health Minister Yuli Edelstein.”
Ohana wrote that Marari and Grotto can choose to run in Israel’s next election and do as they like once they win. “Until then, considering that the responsibility for all bodies subject to the Public Security Ministry falls under my jurisdiction... my decision will remain as it is.”
The Public Health Physicians Association, which is part of the Israel Medical Association, released a statement later on Friday criticizing Ohana’s letter and his attempt to prevent inmates from receiving vaccines.
“The position of health organizations throughout the world and in Israel is to treat inmates as a captive population,” the association’s statement read. “In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, they are considered an at-risk population due to pre-existing conditions and the crowded conditions they are in, which increase the risk of morbidity and mortality rates. This population deserves the right for medical treatment as a basic human right. Israel has a moral obligation to provide inmates with coronavirus vaccinations.
“The position held by the public security minister contradicts the medical guidelines and endangers human life. Moreover, the minister’s letter reflects the crossing of a red line in attacking a doctor who serves the public and is simply fulfilling his professional duty.”
Ohana’s comments apparently also contradict a previous commitment made by the Health Ministry on Tuesday, according to N12, which stated that inmates over the age of 60 will be vaccinated, as was done among the general public. N12 noted that the ministry had directed the IPS to vaccinate inmates over the age of 60.
Earlier this month, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh condemned Ohana’s decision not to give the vaccine to prisoners at this stage.
Shtayyeh claimed that 140 Palestinian prisoners have been infected with the coronavirus, and held Israel fully responsible for their lives.
Shtayyeh and other Palestinian officials demanded that all security prisoners be vaccinated under the supervision of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Qadri Abu Baker, director of the Palestinian Prisoners Commission, announced last month that Israel has informed Palestinian security prisoners that they will be vaccinated against COVID-19 in the next few days.
Abu Baker told the PA news agency WAFA that the vaccination for the prisoners will not be compulsory. He revealed that some prisoners have expressed their desire to receive the vaccine. He too said the PA was planning to ask Israel to allow Palestinian or foreign doctors to supervise the vaccination.
The prisoners will receive the vaccine produced by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, Abu Baker said.