Dispute leaves wounded Syrians’ hospital bills unpaid

Dispute leaves wounded Syrians’ hospital bills unpaid

Some NIS 3 million owed to hospitals in Israel's north for treating injuries from Syrian civil war

Medical devices in use in an Israeli hospital (Photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Medical devices in use in an Israeli hospital (Photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Israel has treated around 50 Syrians injured in the country’s civil war, but the question of how to pay the hospitals for their services remains uncertain, according to a Tuesday report.

Payment for emergency medical care in hospitals for non-citizens is generally provided through a Health Ministry fund. In the case of the Syrian wounded, the Health Ministry and the Defense Ministry have agreed with the hospitals to jointly fund the treatment.

With some NIS 3 million ($830,000) currently owed to hospitals in the north for services already rendered, though, the ministries have come to loggerheads over who will foot the bill, Maariv reported.

Ziv Medical Center in Safed, where 26 Syrians have been treated, received temporary funding from the Defense Ministry for emergency room services for Syrian citizens in February, but has no funding for long-term care for the wounded, which is often required.

The management said that the issue was a “technical problem” between the Health and Defense ministries.

Nahariya Medical Center, which has treated around 20 Syrians, has not received payment for services and is waiting for clarification on the issue, but a spokesman said that the center would continue to provide medical care for Syrian wounded as needed.

A Health Ministry spokesperson said the ministry was aware of the funding problem and was working to solve it.

In recent months, Israel has provided emergency treatment for a steady trickle of seriously injured Syrians, which has sometimes entailed unexpected challenges. In February, the IDF opened a field hospital along the Israeli-Syrian border in the Golan Heights.

“Our policy is to help in humanitarian cases, and to that end we are operating a field hospital along the Syrian border,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee earlier this month. “In cases where there are badly wounded, we transfer them to Israeli hospitals. We have no intention of opening refugee camps.”

Two weeks ago, the first Syrian heart patient left Israel after her successful surgery at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon. The four-year-old patient and her mother spent a month living in Jerusalem while she recovered. A second Syrian child heart patient is also slated to receive treatment at the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer.

Lazar Berman contributed to this report.

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