Workplaces Discipline Israeli Arabs for Facebook Posts Against Gaza Incursion

Doctor, nurse and two municipal employees fired or suspended; Lod worker expresses joy over death of 13 soldiers.

Israeli Arabs in Nazareth protesting the IDF operation in Gaza on July 21, 2014.
Israeli Arabs in Nazareth protesting the IDF operation in Gaza on July 21, 2014. Gil Eliyahu

Lod Mayor Yair Revivo fired an Arab municipal worker Tuesday for expressing joy over the death of 13 Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip, making her the fourth Israeli Arab in recent days to be disciplined at the workplace for posting comments on Facebook against Israel and its operation in Gaza. Some of the online commenters were accused of being traitors to their country.

Unlike the others, Isra Gara, a psychological counselor employed by the municipality, expressly relished the deaths of Israeli soldiers.

“13 [killed]. May they multiply. Amen,” Gara wrote on her Facebook page, resulting in her swift dismissal.

After firing Gara, a resident of the Haifa-area town of Jatt, Revivo, a member of the ruling Likud party, wrote on his Facebook page that she was dismissed because of “disloyalty to the state.” But the Lod municipality said in a statement that she was fired for “a disciplinary offense bordering on the criminal and behavior unbecoming a public servant.”

“I hope something happened in this country yesterday,” Revivo wrote on Facebook. “We’ve ended the era in which one hand milks and receives a respectable pay slip bearing the symbol of the state or the municipality or a public company, and the other hand betrays and hopes for the state’s defeat. When an Israeli citizen is happy over the deaths of our martyred soldiers, who gave their lives in defense of the homeland so that missiles, which fly at Jews and Arabs alike, will no longer be fired here, we can’t accept this.”

He added that he hopes other public agencies will follow suit and fire “the traitors who live among us.”

Municipal officials said Gara admitted her offense at a pre-dismissal hearing with the city manager, the city legal advisor and the head of the municipal education department.

She could not be reached for comment.

Three other Israeli Arabs ­­— a doctor and nurse at two different hospitals and an employee of the Safed municipality — have been suspended for comments on social media over the past two days.

An Arab nurse was suspended from the state-owned Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer on Tuesday for writing on his Facebook page that IDF soldiers are war criminals.

“Even in times of peace, and not only during a justified war to defend the home front, the false accusation that IDF soldiers are war criminals is totally unacceptable, especially from an employee of the State of Israel,” said the hospital’s director general, Dr. Zeev Rotstein.

Describing his hospital as “an island of tolerance,” Rotstein said couldn’t accept “such a crude attack on this value, especially at this time, when the entire hospital has mobilized to treat soldiers and civilians, as well as ill and injured Palestinians from the Gaza Strip.”

Rotstein said he has asked the Civil Service Commission to take disciplinary action against the nurse.

In Jerusalem, Dr. Haitham Rajabi, a specialist in emergency medicine, was suspended from Shaare Zedek Medical Center after calling Israel Defense Forces soldiers “murderers” on his Facebook page. Rajabi also posted a picture of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dressed as a vampire alongside a dead Palestinian child.

Dr. Jonathan Halevy, the hospital’s director general, called Rajabi on Monday and said that while his professional work was fine, his Facebook posts “crossed a red line.” In a subsequent letter to all hospital staff, Halevy said Rajabi’s remarks were “crude and unacceptable” and urged all staffers to conduct themselves “in a manner that won’t undermine our patients’ faith [in us].”

Rajabi told Haaretz he had been devastated by pictures of dead children from Gaza. “I wrote against the killing of children, not in favor of Hamas,” he said. “This isn’t connected to my work as a doctor; I treat everyone, Jews, Arabs and soldiers … Who killed those children if not the soldiers?”

He added that he has received death threats over his Facebook posts.

Meanwhile, the Safed municipality suspended an Arab sanitation worker from the Galilee town of Deir al-Assad on Monday for writing on his Facebook page: “Zionism is the enemy of humanity. We are all Palestine — liberated Palestine.” He is awaiting a pre-dismissal hearing.

Safed Mayor Ilan Shohat said he had acted “according to his conscience and the values on which I was raised … I won’t accept traitors in the municipality.”