Medical centers across the country on Monday voiced support for a hospital accused of murder in the inscription on the headstone of an unvaccinated woman who died last month of COVID-19.
The headstone has an epitaph claiming the woman was “murdered in the Beilinson Hospital coronavirus ward,” and calls on God to “avenge her blood,” a common Hebrew phrase generally used for murder victims.
Beilinson said that the woman, in her 70s, was unvaccinated and already very sick at the time of her admission to the hospital.
After photos of the headstone circulated on Sunday, hospitals posted a photo on social media depicting a medic caring for a patient in a coronavirus ward, along with the Beilinson logo and the slogan “We are all Beilinson.”
Hospitals that participated in the initiative included Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital, Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Medical Center, Tel Hashomer Medical Center, Haifa’s Rambam Medical Campus, Beersheba’s Soroka Hospital, Kfar Saba’s Meir Medical Center, Schneider Center for Pediatrics in Petah Tikva and the Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot.
In an open letter to the hospitals, Beilinson responded to the outpouring of support and said that misinformation must be fought along with the virus.
“You have moved us greatly with your posts. Alongside the ongoing struggle against coronavirus, we have to face another front of an extreme discourse that we did not previously know of,” the statement read.
“Thanks to your resolute support, we will stand as one solid front in favor of a public discourse that respects the professional and dedicated practice of medicine in Israel,” the hospital said.
The Petah Tivka hospital has filed a police complaint over the headstone.
Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz also condemned the incitement.
“It’s horrible and a disgrace, and a terrible injustice to the health system. I give my support to all the hospitals. The doctors have prevented the deaths of thousands of people from the coronavirus,” he told the Kan public broadcaster.
“Unfortunately there is harassment and it stems from fake news and incitement. But we are fighting against it,” Horowitz said.
Horowitz also condemned doctors who spread vaccine misinformation.
“There are also doctors who spread lies and we treat those cases very severely. When a person exploits his status as a doctor and says things that have no basis, sometimes knowing they are not true, it is very serious,” Horowitz said.
On Sunday, Beilinson condemned the harsh and accusatory language used in the inscription.
“The hospital is shocked by the inscription on the gravestone and is disgusted by the severe and inciting words, which have no factual basis,” it said in a statement.
The woman “arrived at the hospital unvaccinated after she was treated at home for a significant time,” said the hospital. “She was admitted with a heart attack and a pulmonary embolism and died of a serious case of COVID.”
The hospital said that the woman was treated by its coronavirus medical team “with endless devotion, with constant presence and dialogue with her family.” It said the engraved message on the headstone is “libel that degrades the public and social discourse like never before.”
Health Ministry Director General Nachman Ash called the headstone “shocking” and said Israelis cannot “defame medical workers.”
More than 8,000 Israelis have died of COVID-19 since the beginning of the outbreak last year. Over 75% of the deaths have been among those over age 70.