Bikur Holim Retirees Cut Off Hospital Electricity in Protest

Bikur Holim hospital retirees demonstrated yesterday in Jerusalem to protest the fact that they have not received pension payments for three months.

The protesters, who were backed by the Histadrut labor federation, removed medical equipment, cut off the hospital's electricity, broke into administrative offices and stirred up a general ruckus.

"We feel deceived and humiliated," said Yardena Sasson, action committee chair for the Bikur Holim retirees. "No one is dealing with us because of a stupid dispute between the Finance Ministry and the official receiver regarding pension terms."

The retirees expressed anger over the fact that the Knesset Finance Committee, which last Monday was supposed to discuss a solution to their problem, never held the hearing.

"Some of us are sick an hungry and others are on the verge of being thrown out of retirement homes because of power games between the treasury and the receiver, Shlomo Shahar," one said.

The demonstrators expressed disappointment at the meeting's postponement.

"Committee chair Yaakov Litzman is a party to the delay," they said, adding that he seems to be more interested in giving money to yeshivas than solving their dilemma.

Bikur Holim, which belongs to an ultra-Orthodox organization headed by Menachem Porush, entered receivership more than three years ago. Some 270 former employees and 250 workers who took early retirement found themselves without a pension after hospital debts were written off.

There have been talks over the past year on selling the hospital, but legal issues with the potential buyers have delayed the sale.