Nurses strike at Haifa hospital after violent assault on staff

National union warns of work cessation throughout country if government does not address the issue

The entrance to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
The entrance to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Nurses at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center held a strike for several hours Sunday morning in protest of the latest incident of violence by members of the public against medical staff.

A doctor and three nurses were assaulted on Saturday by relatives of a cancer patient from the Wadi Ara area. Staff were beaten and threatened by the family when the patient began bleeding. Guards summoned to the room were also assaulted.

Staff could not treat the patient, who eventually died.

Ilana Cohen, chairwoman of the National Association of Nurses, said that if the government did not take immediate action to fight such violence, “we’ll hold a strike throughout the entire health system.”

There have recently been multiple incidents of violence at hospitals across Israel, with warring clans and angry family members gathering outside medical centers and police being called in to assist.

Earlier this month Rambam Medical Center said it had to forcibly remove dozens of people who gathered outside the facility after a victim of violence was brought there for treatment. According to hospital officials, riot police were called to the scene to prevent the crowd from entering the hospital.

“War has broken out here,” Benny Keller, the head of Rambam’s security, told Kan news Wednesday. “Two or three times a week, the hospital turns into a battlefield between warring clans.”

In Beersheba this month, four people were hurt and 19 were arrested in a massive brawl outside Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba that included gunfire.

In another incident, an angry crowd gathered outside Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba after two shooting victims were brought there for treatment. The two men, one of whom was declared dead, were shot outside a funeral at a cemetery in Jaljulia, in what is believed to be a mob hit gone wrong.

All cases were tied to violence in the Arab community, which has spiraled in recent years and has been deemed a top priority by Israeli leaders.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has asserted that violent crime in the Arab community is finally being dealt with.

“Crime in the Arab community, especially… quantities of illegal weapons that are enough for a small army — the arsenal that has accumulated and expanded over many years, needs to be emptied,” Bennett said. “We are making a critical effort throughout the country against weapons and munitions,” the premier added.

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