Doctors, residents street protest - David Bachar - July 2011
Doctors and residents crowd Ramat Gan street on the way to the Israel Medical Association. Photo by David Bachar
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Israel's resident doctors' representatives decided Thursday to submit over a thousand resignation letters in protest of the agreement being formulated between the Israel Medical Association (IMA) and the Finance Ministry. The letters will go into effect in 30 days.

According to Dr. Nadav Haim, a resident at Sheba Medical Center, "under the current circumstances, we feel we cannot go on with our work. Our hands are shaking and we are aware of the gravity of the decision and its consequences." Haim added that the residents support IMA head Dr. Leonid Eidelman's struggle, "yet under these conditions we feel we must take another step."

The IMA expressed anger at the decision. "The residents have gotten many benefits and everything was done… to improve their quality of life," said Dr. Zeev Feldman, one of the leaders of the IMA's protest. He called on the residents to retract the resignation letters and return to work within 24 hours.

The residents are pressuring the IMA not to back down from the demand for a significant raise in the hourly pay.

On Wednesday, the Finance Ministry and the IMA reached a breakthrough, with both sides agreeing to add 1,000 staff positions, as per the demands of the IMA and medical residents.

The sides also agreed on encouraging doctors to work in the periphery by offering grants of up to NIS 300,000. The parties are still negotiating the doctors' remaining demands.