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A 22-year-old woman died at Jerusalem's Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem yesterday a day after giving birth for the first time, to boy and girl twins.

Michal Atroushi of Betar Ilit had given birth by Caesarean section after doctors identified signs of pre-eclampsia, or pregnancy-induced hypertension.

Yesterday the hospital submitted a case report to the Health Ministry, which set up a commission of inquiry to examine the circumstances of the woman's death.

Following the delivery the woman was transferred to the hospital's intensive care unit, but yesterday doctors noticed her condition had deteriorated considerably.

Hospital officials said a team of anesthesiologists and obstetricians led by the heads of those departments conducted thorough resuscitation procedures but were ultimately forced to declare her death.

They said examinations conducted during resuscitation eliminated the possibility that she had died from internal bleeding as a result of the Caesarean or from a brain hemorrhage, and identified hypertension-related complications as the cause of her death.

The newborns are both listed in good condition.

Pre-eclampsia occurs in 5 percent of pregnancies, and in one in five cases reaches an acute stage, in which the patient's liver and blood-clotting mechanisms fail.

In November of last year a 23-year-old woman died at Assaf Harofeh Hospital after a C-section performed following pre-eclampsia-induced brain hemorrhaging, and this May a 33-year-old woman died after giving birth.

In the latter case, death was attributed to a pulmonary embolism, though the precise cause of death has yet to be determined.

A year and a half ago, brain hemorrhaging led to the deaths of two women, one of them at Hadassah Ein Karem, during childbirth.

The incidents have raised fears among doctors that pre-eclampsia has become more common over the past year.

The obstetrics department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Faculty of Medicine and the Israel Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology both have begun collecting data on pre-eclampsia rates to determine whether the condition is indeed on the rise.

'All of Betar Ilit will raise them'

Hundreds of people - most of them members of the Bratslav Hasidic community - attended Atroushi's funeral yesterday in Jerusalem.

The funeral procession, which included the mayor and prominent rabbis of Betar Ilit, left Shamgar Funeral Home for Har Hamenuhot cemetery in Jerusalem, where the woman was interred alongside her late mother.

Atroushi lost her mother to cancer 10 years ago and was raised by her father Gershon, a student in a Betar Ilit yeshiva for married men.

Since their wedding three years ago, Atroushi and her husband Inon had waited eagerly for their first child. "The mother was unable to have a child," said a friend, Nahman Lazerman. "They didn't try fertility treatment, but just waited patiently for salvation. Ultimately, after a lot of praying she got pregnant, and everyone in Betar Ilit rejoiced when they heard she had had twins."

Lazerman said Atroushi's husband had told him he does not intend to press charges against the hospital.

"They're not the type. They believe whole-heartedly that this was a decision made from on high.

"All of Betar Ilit will raise them. They'll get the best of everything. I personally will make sure they get everything they need, so that they grow up comfortably. I'm not worried about these twins," Lazerman said.

The boy's circumcision is scheduled for next week, and Lazerman said the ceremony would be "the fanciest in Betar, with the most ornate tables in the most elaborate hall, and Inon won't pay a thing. We want to turn his sadness into great joy. Someone who has suffered so much - God willing, we'll take care of everything for him."