DoctorIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Doctors went on strike Sunday morning at hospitals across the country. The two-hour strike, which ended at 10 a.m., was coordinated following multiple violent attacks on doctors at the hands of patients or their relatives.

During the strike hospital doctors continued to provide urgent care, including staffing emergency rooms, delivery wards and intensive care units, but did not provide non-critical treatment.

“Recently there has been a wave of ugly attacks on doctors… This shocking, shameful wave of violence continues, and most of the public is silent. We will not be silent!” said a statement from the Israeli Medical Association (IMA).

There have been at least five recent attacks on doctors, IMA head Dr. Leonid Eidelman said. “It’s absurd that we, Israeli doctors, swore to protect life and care for whoever needs medical attention, yet our own lives are treated as cheap. This is the unfair reward that doctors get for their hard work,” he declared.

“Injury to a doctor is injury to his patients, too,” Dr. Eidelman continued. “A doctor who has been attacked struggles to give top-notch care… Other doctors’ abilities suffer as well. A doctor who is afraid of his or her patients cannot function.”

Regarding the strike, he said, “We have no intention of hurting the public with this step. We are trying to open their eyes and recruit them to the struggle against violence in the healthcare system.”

The public can help by avoiding any type of violence – verbal or physical – against healthcare providers, he said.

Doctors are also demanding that the government authorize a program to reduce violence in medical centers. The program was put together last August by the IMA in conjunction with various government ministries, but has yet to go into effect.