Doctors Arrested for Selling Fake Sick-leave Notes to Soldiers

Five doctors at a Kafr Qasem clinic, the clinic director and two nurses were arrested yesterday for allegedly selling sick-leave notes to hundreds of soldiers for NIS 50 to NIS 150.

More than 100 soldiers were detained for questioning yesterday for allegedly purchasing sick-leave notes. The investigation was conducted by the military police and the Central District Police central unit.

The affair began a few months ago, when the head of the Israel Defense Forces human resources branch began receiving reports that many soldiers in the standing army were absent from their bases for short periods. The army called in civilian police detectives, and the investigation team learned that three doctors at the Kafr Qasem clinic allegedly had been selling sick-leave notes for a long time.

Investigators found several internet forums where soldiers recommended the clinic as a place to obtain sick-leave notes for a small fee, without showing any symptoms of illness.

"During the investigation we trained eight military police investigators to serve as agents. They went to the clinic and told doctors that they wanted sick days even though they weren't ill, and offered to pay," said police Superintendent Itzhak Hanoch, chief of undercover agents in the Central District central unit.

"We documented doctors giving out sick-leave notes for NIS 50 to NIS 150 per soldier, to anyone who asked," he said.

Hundreds of soldiers from all over the country were documented coming and going from the clinic.

Yesterday the probe broke with Border Police and military police raids on the suspects' homes.

The court extended the suspects' remands by five days.

A military official said yesterday that the soldiers would be charged with "conduct unbecoming a soldier" rather than criminal charges.

Commander Avi Neuman, commander of the central unit of the Central District, said they believed such activity was taking at other clinics as well.