Health workers to strike Wednesday as killing of nurse shocks system

Clinics to close across the country from 8 to 10 a.m. in protest over worker burned to death and other attacks on staff

Scene of an alleged arson attack in the city of Holon in central Israel on March 14, 2017. (Magen David Adom spokesperson)
Scene of an alleged arson attack in the city of Holon in central Israel on March 14, 2017. (Magen David Adom spokesperson)

Health care providers across Israel said they will halt work for two hours Wednesday in protest at the killing of a nurse in a clinic and to highlight concern over violence directed against health professionals.

Histadrut labor federation chairman Avi Nissenkorn announced the shutdown of the health care system between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.

“The strike is in solidarity with all members of the health care system who work day and night for patients and their families across the country,” Nissenkorn said.

The announcement came as health care officials sounded the alarm on violence against doctors and others by irritated patients and family members, which they say is a chronic issue in Israel.

Attacks on staff in hospitals and health clinics have increased dramatically in the past few years, with family members attacking or cursing staff and causing disruptions in wards.

On Tuesday morning, Tova Kararo, a nurse at a Clalit HMO clinic in the central city of Holon, was doused with flammable material and set on fire by a disgruntled patient.

Kararo was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency workers.

Tova Kararo, a nurse killed by a patient on March 14, 2017. (Facebook)
Tova Kararo, a nurse killed by a patient on March 14, 2017. (Facebook)

Media reports said the patient suspected of killing her is a 78-year-old mentally ill Holocaust survivor who resides in Holon.

He fled in his car but was caught by police at the city’s exit after a chase.

Police believe he was dissatisfied with the treatment he had received.

After being caught, he reportedly said, “I didn’t want to harm anyone – only to throw a burning bottle,” the Israel Hayom newspaper reported.

“Everyone was shocked today by the murder,” said a Health Ministry spokesperson, “but the writing was already on the wall. Attacks against medical teams is something that happens too frequently, and we cannot let it pass in silence.”

Health Minister Yaakov Litzman said he was “shocked” by the incident.

“This event was unprecedented. We are all feeling the pain and want to strengthen the teams in the clinic,” said Eli Dapas, CEO of Clalit health services.

The chairman of the Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee, Eli Alaluf, announced that on Wednesday morning the committee will hold an emergency session in the wake of the attack.

According to official government figures, there were 3,000 reported cases of violence or abuse against health personnel in hospitals, clinics and emergency services between 2014 and 2016. Approximately 75 percent of those attacks were verbal abuse.

A quarter of the attacks were physical attacks against medical staff or their security. Three-quarters of the attacks took place in hospitals, especially in emergency rooms.

In almost one-quarter of the cases the victims filed complaints with the police.

Jerusalem’s Hadassah hospitals announced that they will hold a solidarity rally on Wednesday at 12 p.m. in Ein Kerem and at 12:15 p.m. on Mount Scopus in memory of Kararo and to draw attention to violence against health workers.

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