Israel's First-response Service Won't Disclose Details of Pricey Flights for Top Execs

Refusing a Freedom of Information request on the grounds that it is not a matter of public interest and too broad a scope, Magen David Adom is considering a new, more limited request

Magen David Adom Director General, Eli Bin, September 9, 2016
Nir Keidar

Magen David Adom, Israel’s emergency medical service and blood bank, has sent its senior executives on trips abroad, frequently in business class, at a cost of thousands of dollars, TheMarker has learned, but MDA has refused to disclose the details.

Responding to a Freedom of Information request from the Hatzlaha consumer group, MDA argued that the information was not a matter of public interest. In a separate response to TheMarker, MDA said the scope of the Hatzlaha request was overly broad and that a new, more limited request would be considered by its information committee at its next meeting.

MDA added that the law permits its senior officials to fly business class, in keeping with civil service practice.

Hatzlaha originally requested employee travel expenses from 2014 to 2017 from several medical organizations, including MDA, under Israel’s Freedom of Information Law relating to organizations that receive state funding. 

Through its lawyer, Yechiel Weinroth, MDA refused the request, citing a provision that excludes internal information that is of no public interest. In a written response for this article, MDA disputed the facts in question and held that Hatzlaha was not entitled to receive [the information requested] in accordance with the law.”

“A large portion of Magen David Adom’s budget is from contributions raised around the world and through contractual relationships with providers abroad and professional education programming and conferences on the subject of emergency medicine,” the statement reads in part. “The organization takes part on a regular basis in the activities of the International Committee of the Red Cross in humanitarian assistance activities and in involvement in European Union projects. For these reasons, Magen David Adom representatives travel abroad and all travel is approved by authorized parties at the organization, including the board of directors.”