ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 143

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'I was at Sea of Galilee, in the sun, without a hat, water'

Netanyahu says he’s feeling ‘very good’ after hospitalized with apparent dehydration

Sheba Medical Center and PM’s office say he ‘complained of slight dizziness’; first test results normal, further ‘routine checks’ being carried out

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks from Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, where he is hospitalized, and says he feels 'very good,' July 15. 2023. (Screenshot: Channel 12)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks from Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, where he is hospitalized, and says he feels 'very good,' July 15. 2023. (Screenshot: Channel 12)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday evening that he was feeling “very good” after being rushed to the emergency room at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan earlier in the day.

He was undergoing “further routine examination” on Saturday evening after the hospital said it assessed he was suffering from dehydration and “nothing untoward was found” in initial tests.

In a video statement from Sheba issued at around 7:15 p.m., Netanyahu said: “Yesterday I was with my wife at the Sea of Galilee, in the sun, without a hat, without water. Not a good idea,” he added with a smile.

“I first of all want to thank all of you for your concern, and to thank the excellent medical teams here at Sheba who checked me. Thank God I feel very good,” he went on. “But I have one request from you, we are in the midst of a heatwave, so I ask of you, spend less time in the sun, drink more water, and may we all have a good week,” Netanyahu concluded.

In a joint statement about an hour earlier, Sheba and the Prime Minister’s Office had said: “The prime minister spent several hours in the heat of the day at the Sea of Galilee yesterday. Today, he complained of slight dizziness,” and his doctor recommended he come to Sheba.

“Initial tests have come back normal, with nothing untoward found. The initial assessment is dehydration. On the doctors’ advice, the prime minister is undergoing further routine tests,” the statement added.

Netanyahu, 73, was brought by convoy from his home in Caesarea, where he was spending the weekend. He was said to be fully conscious and walking without assistance.

His personal doctor, Tzvi Berkovitz, told Channel 12 news on Saturday afternoon that the prime minister’s condition was “good and stable,” adding he was undergoing examination.

Channel 12 news said Netanyahu had walked from his car to the emergency room. His wife Sara and son Avner were with him in the hospital, the TV report said.

A little after 7 p.m. on Saturday, Avner was seen driving away from the hospital, in apparent good spirits.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Avner is seen leaving the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, where his father was hospitalized, July 15. 2023. (Screenshot: Kan public broadcaster)

The Haaretz and Walla! Hebrew websites reported that Netanyahu had lost consciousness at home. Channel 12 said Sheba doctors did not confirm this, and it was not addressed in the prime minister’s video or in Sheba’s formal statement. Channel 12 said without confirmation that he had complained of chest pains.

Netanyahu has no formal deputy. In the past, when on trips abroad or when he has undergone brief scheduled medical procedures, Netanyahu has designated a ministerial colleague to temporarily fill in for him.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid wished Netanyahu good health and a speedy recovery, writing “feel better” on Twitter.

An ambulance outside the emergency entrance to the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan on July 15, 2023, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was hospitalized. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

Netanyahu heads an unprecedentedly hardline Israeli coalition government, which has sparked more than six months of internal opposition over its plans to overhaul the judiciary. Legislation to block judicial scrutiny over the “reasonableness” of politicians’ decisions — the first overhaul bill to advance since Netanyahu temporarily froze the legislative blitz in late March — is scheduled to clear the committee stage in the coming week, and to be voted into law on or around July 23. The Knesset breaks for summer recess at the end of the month.

The planned overhaul has plunged his ties with the US into crisis, with President Joe Briden refusing to invite him to the White House, and publicly expressing concerns for the fate of Israeli democracy.

Netanyahu is also in the midst of a protracted corruption trial, having been charged with three counts of fraud and breach of trust and one of bribery. He denies all the allegations, and says he is the victim of a political witch hunt.

In October, Netanyahu was hospitalized at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center after feeling unwell during Yom Kippur synagogue services. He was released the next morning after undergoing exams and remaining overnight for observation.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu receives a coronavirus vaccine, from his personal physician Dr. Tzvi Berkovitz, at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, on December 19, 2020, becoming the first Israeli to get the vaccine. (Amir Cohen/Pool/AFP)

Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving leader, has not formally designated an acting prime minister since his second stint as premier began in 2009, and similarly refrained from doing so upon returning to office in late July, setting up the potential for political chaos if he were to suddenly vacate his seat or be incapacitated.

Justice Minister Yariv Levin holds the title of deputy prime minister, but that would not provide for Levin to automatically fill in for Netanyahu in any such circumstance. Rather, government ministers would be required to vote on a temporary replacement.

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