Doctors in action
Doctors in action Israel news photo: (illustrative)

The Israel Medical Association (IMA) has cut its ties with the Israeli branch of the Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) group due to a fight over torture of prisoners. 

The move was sparked by the PHR call to oust Dr. Yoram Blachar, who is also president of the IMA, from his post as president of the World Medical Association. The PHR has accused Blachar of supporting torture of prisoners in Israel, a charge that he has denied. 

PHR warned that IMA’s decision to cut ties would damage the medical system by disrupting patient referrals between clinics for foreign workers and refugees run jointly by IMA and PHR in south Tel Aviv. 

IMA said it made the decision due to the cooperation between PHR and British physician Derek Summerfield, who claimed that Blachar had justified torture of prisoners for the past 10 years.

Blachar responded that the IMA “has explicitly stated our opposition to the torture of prisoners and detainees jailed in Israel ever since the High Court of Justice ruling [on the subject] in 1999." 

The IMA plans to sue Summerfield for defamation of character. Summerfield, who was one of the initiators of the petition against Blachar, only managed to garner 725 signatures from 43 countries in support of the ouster. 

In contrast, the IMA attracted 5,500 signatures on a counter-petition supporting Blachar’s presidency, which will end in October with the election of his successor. Blachar’s third term as head of IMA ends next month.

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