President Herzog at the ceremony
President Herzog at the ceremonyKoby Gideon (GPO)

Ahead of next month’s International Nurses Day, President Isaac Herzog and First Lady Michal Herzog on Tuesday hosted nurses from across the healthcare system being honored for their dedication and excellence.

The event was attended by the Minister of Health, Uriel Buso, the Director-General of the Ministry of Health, Moshe Bar Siman Tov, and the Chairperson of the Nurses Association, Ilana Cohen. Additionally, during the event, certificates of excellence were awarded to 30 distinguished nurses who, through their actions, exemplified acts of bravery, courage, and selflessness in order to save lives.

During the event, the First Lady held an emotional and open conversation with nurse Nili Margalit, who was taken hostage on October 7th from Kibbutz Nir Oz and was released after 55 days in Hamas captivity. Also speaking with the First Lady was nurse Nirit Honvald Kornfeld, the community nurse from Kibbutz Be'eri, who fought for hours to save the lives of the wounded in the Kibbutz.

Nili Margalit shared her experiences of caring for her fellow hostages in captivity: “When I was there, I was with people from my community who knew I was a nurse, and very quickly I realized there was a need to care for them, to help them, and to understand where we were and how we could survive together, and I truly took on the role.”

Nirit Honvald Kornfeld shared her experiences from October 7th: “I didn't think twice. I left my family and ran to treat the wounded in the kibbutz. The terrorists were there for two hours outside my hiding place until the army came and rescued me. At that point, I couldn't leave without rescuing more wounded and returning to my family.”

President Herzog said: “It is a great honor for us to witness such an impressive healthcare system, with caregivers who perform sacred work, day in and day out, hour by hour, to save lives, providing assistance and medical care in the field of mental health and in all areas. Truly, you are a source of pride, both for our country and around the world. From all over the world, people talk to me about our wonderful healthcare system.”

He added, “I wish you all quieter and calmer days. I want to express special appreciation to nurses from the border areas, from the north, from displaced families, and especially from bereaved families, and families of the hostages. We are all grateful to you from the bottom of our hearts, and we wish you only good news, and a happy Passover holiday, for you and your families, and that together we will know better days.”

Health Minister Uriel Busso said, “This year, International Nurses Day is overshadowed by the events of October 7th and the ongoing war. These are complex days for the State of Israel, in which it has been proven again and again that our healthcare system is one of the best in the world. All this is thanks to the people, and in particular the nurses who devoted and give of themselves to caring for the many wounded and citizens displaced from their homes with courage and strength. The nurses have shown how significant their role is in facing the challenges posed by the war to the healthcare system, and how their efforts and contributions drive the entire system, and particularly at times of emergency.”

Director-General of the Ministry of Health, Moshe Bar Siman Tov, said, “The resilience of the State of Israel relies on the healthcare system and the professionalism of the nurses in times of routine and in crisis. In recent months, we have witnessed acts of civilian heroism by nurses who fought for the lives of the wounded in the heart of the battlefield, even not in their official capacity, risking their own lives. This bravery is a symbol of dedication, professionalism, love for humanity, and compassion, and all of these we honor today.”

He noted, “International Nurses Day this year sheds light on this courage and heroism demonstrated in the face of Hamas’ brutal terror attack of October 7th and since: on the battlefield and in the trauma rooms, in mental health and rehabilitation, in hospitals and in the community, in clinics and in the military, and in dealing with life-saving and with grief.”

Chair of the Nurses Association, Ilana Cohen, said, “Thanks to you, dear nurses, more and more lives survived the storm, and with your help, more and more wounded will be able to smile towards the future.”