Israeli Minister Demands Action Against Doctors Who Slammed Immigration Chief Over Deportation Plan

Interior Minister Arye Dery says physicians employed by government should face repercussions after they criticized head of campaign to deport African asylum seekers

Interior Minister Arye Dery, right, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset, October 2017.
Olivier Fitoussi

Interior Minister Arye Dery is demanding government action against state-employed doctors who criticized a senior ministry official last week and called for the revocation of his medical license over his role in the deportation of African asylum seekers.

Physicians for Human Rights asked the Health Ministry last week to revoke Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef’s medical license because of his role as head of the Interior Ministry’s Population, Immigration and Border Authority, which is running a campaign to deport Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers to Africa.

“Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef isn’t filling his position at the population and immigration authority in his capacity as a doctor,” the organization wrote. “But the very fact that this job is held by a physician stains the entire profession.”

Also last week, some 350 doctors wrote directly to Mor-Yosef, demanding that he stop the deportations. “Our silence would be like consenting to one of the greatest harms humanity has ever known,” they wrote, adding that the government must find a moral and humane solution that would allow asylum seekers to exercise their rights to health and a dignified existence.

The letter’s signatories included many doctors who are current or former government employees, including the director of Wolfson Medical Center, Holon, and the deputy director of Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer (both are government hospitals); a former Health Ministry director general; and dozens of hospital department heads, physicians, nurses, social workers and other civil servants.

In a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, Dery demanded that the state take unspecified action against all these government employees for publicly attacking a fellow state employee over government policy.