The Labor Court rejected the State's appeal to issue injunctions against protesting doctors prompting a general strike on Monday, the 128th day of the doctors' protest. Meanwhile hospitals are required to care for an increasing number of patients who are both angry and confused as many have them are forced to return to their homes.
Medical Association Chairman, Dr. Leonid Eidelman announced that he would be launching a hunger strike until the end of the doctors' struggle and added that a protest march would begin Monday afternoon. Eidelman criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is the de facto health minister.
The Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, where many were caught unprepared for the strike, is continuing to care for patients in spite of a shortage in doctors, who only heard about the strike after arriving at the hospital and decided to stay and help with the increased work load. Others remained at home but patients have yet to feel the consequences of the strike.
At the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa news of the strike was received with less understanding. The support shown by patients who protested outside the out-patient clinics over the last few weeks was replaced by fury. Many patients who arrived for ambulatory care and tests discovered that the doctors had launched a surprise general strike and they would be going home without receiving the necessary care.
Closed - outpatient clinics (Photo: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv )
Interior Minister Eli Yishai has called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to intervene immediately to bring an end to the strike.
"I emphasized to the prime minister that only he has the power to bring the strike to an end," said Eli Yishai, "The public cannot bear the health crisis indeterminately, and the decision must come from the prime minister."
Yishai believes that "a marathon social financial cabinet led by Netanyahu" must be established "with the participation of doctors and residents until an end to the strike is declared."
Kobi Nahshoni contributed to the report