ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 141

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Doctors attend Jerusalem anti-overhaul rally, warning of plan’s health fallout

Renee Ghert-Zand is the health reporter and a feature writer for The Times of Israel.

A sign held by a mental health professional in a protest against the government's planned judicial overhaul outside the Knesset in Jerusalem, March 27, 2023. (Renee Ghert-Zand)
A sign held by a mental health professional in a protest against the government's planned judicial overhaul outside the Knesset in Jerusalem, March 27, 2023. (Renee Ghert-Zand)

Striking physicians and other medical professionals make their way to the mass protest against the government’s judicial overhaul outside the Knesset in Jerusalem. They feel that the moment calls for them to raise their voices in the capital rather than in other cities. Spotted among the throngs, they wear red or purple T-shirts with logos identifying them as doctors and mental health professionals.

Nadav, a psychiatrist at a Netanya hospital, says he is at the protest to defend democracy for the sake of the Israeli healthcare system.

“In non-democratic states, the public healthcare system does not work as it does in Israel. Basic rights like the equality of patients’ access to care could be hurt. I treat people with addictions and from the margins of society. They could lose their protections,” he says.

Analu is a clinical psychologist in Tel Aviv. “Dictatorship is ruining our soul,” she says.

She is already witnessing increased levels of anxiety, depression, symptoms of gaslighting, and post-traumatic stress disorder among her patients. She fears her workload will get heavier should the government not reverse course.

“One needs democracy to feel happiness, reach our potential and have a sense of agency,” she says.

Pediatric oncologist Shulamit works at Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva. She arrives with other members of the physician group known as the White Coats. For her, protesting as a doctor and as a person are one and the same.

“I’ve been to protests in other cities, but I wanted to be outside the Knesset today as the government announces its decisions,” she says.

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