Netanyahu has successful hernia surgery at Jerusalem hospital

While under anesthesia the premier, 74, replaced by Justice Minister Yariv Levin; last year he had pacemaker installed following hospitalization, prompting health questions

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a ceremony at a hospital in Ramat Gan, February 6, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a ceremony at a hospital in Ramat Gan, February 6, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu underwent successful surgery for a hernia late Sunday following a meeting of the war cabinet.

Netanyahu, 74, was put under full anesthesia during the operation at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem in Jerusalem, leaving Justice Minister Yariv Levin in charge of the country for several hours.

Doctors and Netanyahu’s office said in a statement at around 1:30 a.m. that the surgery had gone as planned and had been a success.

“He is awake, recovering and speaking with his family,” said Prof. Alon Pikarsky, the hospital’s director of general surgery, who worked on the prime minister.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, the hernia was discovered during a routine checkup on Saturday evening. His office did not say where in the body the hernia had been discovered, although they are most common in the abdomen and hip areas.

An official at the PMO said Sunday afternoon that the prime minister was feeling well and was following his planned schedule, which included a meeting with the families of female IDF soldiers held hostage in Gaza, as well as the war cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu underwent surgery last year to have a pacemaker installed after he suffered a “transient heart block.” The surgery came a week after he was hospitalized for what he said at the time was dehydration.

The incident led to considerable speculation among many in Israel as to the health of the prime minister and to what degree details had been hidden from the public.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) walking next to Justice Minister Yariv Levin during a plenum session for Israeli Knesset’s 75th birthday, at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on January 24, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Earlier this month, the prime minister missed several days of work after contracting the flu, his office said.

A medical report released in January said Netanyahu was in a “completely normal state of health,” that his pacemaker was working correctly and that there was no evidence of heart arrhythmia or any other problematic conditions.

A petition was submitted to the High Court of Justice earlier this month calling for Netanyahu to be compelled to share a detailed health report, claiming that he has not followed protocols requiring him to reveal his physical and mental health for years.

Despite protocols requiring prime ministers to release an annual health report, Netanyahu did not release one between 2016 and late 2023. He could not be legally forced to share his health information as these protocols, developed by the PMO, have not been enshrined in law.

The petitioners, who include relatives of those killed on October 7 as well as medical professionals and Labor MK Naama Lazimi, argue that with Israel in a serious security crisis, it is paramount for Netanyahu to be transparent about his health and appoint an acting deputy should he be unable to perform his duties.

Renee Ghert-Zand contributed to this report.

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