Hospital (file)
Hospital (file) iStock

Numerous maternity wards around Israel separate Jewish and Arab women, even though such a practice is completely forbidden by the Ministry of Health.

Reshet B reported Tuesday morning that the hospitals in violation of Ministry instructions include Jerusalem's Sha'arei Tzedek, Hadassah Ein Kerem and Hadassah Mount Scopus; Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital; and Kfar Saba's Meir Hospital.

The separation is sometimes due to the patients' requests and sometimes treated as a standard procedure. All hospitals denied any such separation, though some said that they consider patients' requests on the matter.

Of all the hospitals that spoke with the reporters, only Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva and Rambam Hospital in Haifa said that they refuse to separate Jewish and Arab mothers.

The Ministry of Health says that it does not permit any discriminatory separation. This includes divisions based on religion, country of origin, ethnicity and more.

MK Ahmed Tibi (Joint List) has commented on the report, saying that separation harms the medical profession's humanistic and egalitarian values, even if it is done at the mother's request. "It is a submission to the general mindset in the country and we must not give in to such racist attitudes."

He has since asked Health Minister Yaakov Litzman (UTJ) to open an extensive investigation into all of the country's hospitals.

MK Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home), however, expressed his support for the the hospitals' actions.

"Life is more important than anything. There are mental gaps and both sides are more comfortable being with their own. It's not racism at all," he posted from his Twitter account. "My wife is certainly not racist but after giving birth she wants rest, not the massive feasts [in the hospital rooms] that are customary with Arab families after births."

MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union) demanded that Smotrich withdraw his remark. "Bezalel, how many of our good friends are Jews who make particularly large feasts? I suggest you delete this racist tweet," he posted. Such "Jewish feasts", however, do not take place in the maternity ward.