Israeli Physicians Go on 24-hour Strike in Protest of Violence Against Medical Teams

Physicians in public service – those working in schools, local clinics, government ministries and other institutions, including in administrative positions, will strike after an assault on medical staff earlier this week

Hadassah staff protest following the incident, on Tuesday.
Hadassah staff protest following the incident, on Tuesday.Credit: Hadassah hospital spokesperson

Physicians in public hospitals and clinics operated by health maintenance organizations began Thursday a 24-hours strike in protest of violence against medical stuff in Israel.

Israel's Medical Association demands small police stations set up in every emergency room, the increasing of security in hospitals and local clinics as well as a legal amendment that will ensure an assault of a medical staff member is treated as an assault on an officer.

During the strike Thursday, hospitals will operate on a weekend schedule, while in every city one health clinic will operate. In addition, there will be protests at Hadassah University Hospital at Mt. Scopus at 9 A.M., Shaare Zedek Medical Center at 9:30 A.M. and a rally of solidarity at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer at 11 A.M.

The chairman of Israel's medical association, Dr. Zeev Feldman, Told Army Radio on Thursday that he "apologizes to all the patients who will not receive the treatments planned for them today, but we are not ready to be a punching bag. Not us, not the nurses and not anyone in the health system."

The scene of the riot at Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem, on Monday.Credit: Hadassah Medical Center spokesperson

The strike comes four days after dozens of angry family members of a patient who had just died at Jerusalem's Hadassah University Hospital rioted for nearly 10 minutes on Monday, assaulting medical workers, destroying equipment and breaking doors and windows.

The scene of the riot at Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem, on Monday.Credit: Hadassah Medical Center spokesperson

According to medical staff at the hospital, the attack could have been predicted. They say the patient, who was known to belong to a family with a history of violence, was transferred to Hadassah from a Palestinian hospital in the city, because employees there feared the reaction of family members to his treatment.

He was admitted to the hospital in critical condition, apparently after a drug overdose, and was resuscitated, but his condition remained serious. He was declared dead a few hours later, on Monday evening. The doctor who treated him said he dreaded telling the man's family, and asked hospital security to call for police support, but hospital employees say the guards refused and said they could handle the situation.

Physicians in public service – those working in schools, local Health Ministry offices, government ministries and other institutions, including in administrative positions, will also strike.

All emergency services, including emergency dialysis, ICU and neonatal ICU, emergency rooms, maternity wards and cancer treatment, will operate normally. The strike will also make exceptions for procedures that cannot be postponed, IVF treatments in the community and late-pregnancy ultrasounds. An exceptions' committee will be established to consider applications for additional procedures.

Since 2019, 300 assaults have been reported by medical staff members, alongside thousands of cases of verbal threats and riots. During the same year, 333 cases of violence against medical staff members were reported, a number that has shrunk in 2020 with 306 cases reported and 313 in 2021. Since the beginning of the current year, medical staff reported on 110 cases of physical violence.

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