Dozens of surgeries were canceled on Monday after nurses went out on strike, demanding solutions for Israel's understaffed and overburdened health system amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital, which serves Israel's largest metropolitan center, canceled 44 surgeries and an additional 23 medical procedures.
Israel's largest hospital, Sheba Medical Center, canceled 15 surgeries. Dozens of operations were also canceled in other hospitals across the country.
Although the strike affected mostly surgical wards, other departments reported difficulties as well and were forced to work on a weekend footing.
The strike followed a late Sunday night meeting with Finance Ministry officials that ended in gridlock.
"The nurses represent the entire healthcare system," said Dr. Ze'ev Feldman, chairman of the Doctors Association and chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery Department at the Sheba Medical Center.
"We have been asking for more nursing staff to prepare for the winter, during which we fear we will see coronavirus among other seasonal illnesses. We need new personnel now so that we could train them in advance."
The Israel Nurses Association said it also had been demanding more nursing staff even before the pandemic hit earlier this year, but the outbreak has exacerbated the problem since many staff members have been made to self-isolate after coming into contact with COVID-19 patients or transferred to work in coronavirus wards.
"The health system was a hot topic before the elections, but since then, elected officials have ignored medical teams' pleas," nurses union chief Ilana Cohen told Ynet. "You think I want to strike in the middle of a pandemic? The government has abandoned nurses and patients."