Dr. Yitzhak Schnirer
Dr. Yitzhak Schnirer Photo by Dror Artzi
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Tiberias police arrested the director of Poriya Hospital’s oncology department yesterday on suspicion he committed sexual offenses against three of his women patients.

A judge from the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court ordered the physician, Yitzhak Schnirer, to remain in custody for an additional week, saying there was evidence supporting the allegations against him. The judge also denied Schnirer’s lawyer’s request that the physician’s name be placed under a gag order.

The arrest follows complaints filed three weeks ago by the women, two of whom said they were sexually harassed by Schnirer and a third who said she was raped.

The police did not question or arrest the suspect at the time, but yesterday they detained him at Ben-Gurion International Airport, where he was planning to fly to the United States to attend a medical conference.

His lawyer, Eyal Cohen, said most if not all of the allegations were “recycled” complaints that had been investigated by the civil service commissioner previously, resulting in the case’s closure.

Cohen also presented the Nazareth court with an airline ticket he said Schnirer purchased in January as proof that the accused had planned to leave Israel and travel to the U.S. even before the women filed their police complaint.

Cohen said the complaint followed friction between Schnirer and two disgruntled hospital employees, a nurse and a secretary in his department who, Cohen alleges, had strong motives to convince patients to file false complaints against Schnirer.

At the hearing yesterday, police investigator Mordechai Kadosh told Judge Lili Jung-Goffer that he questioned two of the complainants, who are terminally ill, and was satisfied there was evidence in support of their allegations.

Shimon Kokush, who is the lawyer for one of the alleged victims, told Haaretz the allegations against Schnirer include indecent assault, rape, sexual harassment and attempted extortion.

He said the complainants had also complained to the hospital administration, but claimed nothing was done about the matter.

The woman who filed the rape complaint alleged that on several occasions Schnirer groped her on the breast although there was no medical necessity for this in his medical examination, that he forcibly kissed her and she tried to push him away.

The woman also alleges that the suspect examined her sexual organs although her cancer was in another part of her body. Cohen said Schnirer only conducted his work in a manner consistent with accepted medical practice.