Leonid Eidelman - Olivier Fitoussi - 02082011
IMA head Dr. Leonid Eidelman in his protest tent Monday. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi
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Israel Medical Association chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman, who has been on a hunger strike for the last eight days to protest the government's failure to accede to striking doctors' demands, yesterday explained his rationale to the Knesset's health caucus.

"[People] ask me if it's worth sacrificing my health on account of particular people," he said, after the cheering that greeted him had died down. "But I'm not doing this for the sake of the people negotiating with us. There's no loftier goal than the health of Israel's inhabitants, and everything I'm doing is solely to advance Israelis' health."

Thousands of people, he added, had urged him to abandon the doctors' current limited sanctions and simply shut down the health system entirely. But that means "patients would immediately pay with their health, and even their lives.

"So that was the alternative: either endanger thousands of patients or endanger the life of one man. And I'm determined to continue, because I see how with each passing day, the health system's collapse is accelerating, and very soon we're liable to find ourselves unable to give people treatment."