Protests over the hospital strike, Feb 2014
Protests over the hospital strike, Feb 2014Flash90

Protests erupted outside the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in Jerusalem Sunday, as the ongoing strike at Hadassah Medical Center continues to escalate. 

Hundreds stormed the intersection outside the office, demanding that the Finance Ministry stop the budget crisis fueling the strikes and re-open the hospital doors. 

"Save Hadassah Medical Center!" signs blared. "Where is [Health Minister] Yael German?" 

Dr. Sagit Arbel-Alon, Chairman of the medical staff for the two hospitals and a key player in the ongoing strike, took to the podium during the demonstration. 

"I came to ask forgiveness from the residents of Jerusalem, I came to ask from you forgiveness in the name of Health Minister Yael German, who during all of these months of crisis did not find it necessary to meet the hospital staff even once, despite our many requests," Arbel-Alon stated. 

"Where is the Health Minister?," she asked. "Would the Defense Minister also avoid going down to the front during wartime? You disparage us everywhere and make us out to be greedy and money-hungry." 

The ongoing strike at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem has already driven several senior members of both Hadassah Ein Kerem and Hadassah Mount Scopus to quit, saying they were fed up over the hospital's inability to compensate for missing wages and frustrated over the tedious negotiations. 

The strike began Tuesday at both Hadassah Ein-Kerem and Hadassah Mount Scopus medical centers, as a backlash against the Finance Ministry for allegedly stalling in negotiations to expand the hospital's budget.

The budget cuts have been hurting patients, according to the staff, and the staff is reeling after a month on half-pay. As a result, the centers decided to close their doors Tuesday, operating on the schedule normally reserved for Shabbat and holidays. 

Following the drastic step, the Knesset decided to hold a hearing about the crisis on Monday, in the Labor, Welfare and Health Committee. Avigdor Kaplan, CEO of the Medical Center, and Professor Roni Gamzo, Director of the Ministry of Health, will both attend the hearing.

The Hadassah organization released an urgent letter to the government and to the public Friday over the strike, urging the state to step up its efforts to keep the hospital going and asking for public support. 

The public's support has snowballed, as hundreds of medical centers across Israel went on strike in solidarity between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. Sunday morning. 

Photo Credits: Hezki Ezra