Doctor's strike - AP - 31.7.11
Striking doctors rallying outside the Knesset on Sunday July 31, 2011. Photo by AP
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Over 500 medical residents and 100 specialists have climbed on the bandwagon and submitted their resignations, bringing the total number of residents who have quit their jobs at hospitals around the country to close to 1,000. The resignations, effective in 30 days, come in the framework of the residents' opposition to the draft agreement in the works between the Israeli Medical Association and the Finance Ministry.

The young doctors are trying to pressure the IMA into significantly increasing the starting hourly rate for residents from the current NIS 24 per hour to NIS 50 per hour.

The resignations continued yesterday at hospitals countrywide, including Rambam Medical Center and Bnei Zion Medical Center (Haifa ), Ichilov Hospital (Tel Aviv ), Soroka Medical Center (Beer Sheva ), Poriya Hospital (Tiberias ), Wolfson Medical Center (Holon ) and Meir Hospital (Kfar Sava ). Resignations were also handed in at psychiatric hospitals such as Geha Psychiatric Hospital in Petah Tikva and the Lev Hasharon facility in Pardesiya.

More than 300 residents handed in letters of resignation over the weekend.

According to a statement yesterday from the representatives of the residents: "A big move of submitting letters of resignation is underway; and in the event that a solution acceptable to the doctors is not found soon, the health system will be on the verge of collapse in a month's time.

"Despite attempts to sow internal strife, we are united and stand behind the collective resignation decision, and we are sticking to our demands," the statement continued.

The IMA, meanwhile, is continuing to urge the residents to retract their resignations, warning that such steps could undermine the talks with the finance ministry. The negotiations between the IMA and treasury continued yesterday and are expected to go on this morning too, ahead of this afternoon's High Court of Justice debate on the matter. The court will hear a petition filed by attorney David Forer that calls on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to intervene in the crisis.

In light of progress in the talks, the IMA has suspended its sanctions at least until Wednesday.