A short while later the residents announced they would return to work but initiate a hunger strike. Those who remained at the ER created lengthy lines.
At Meir Hospital, striking residents abandoned their posts and took seats on the floor of the ER waiting room, some wearing signs that said, "Doctor on hunger strike".
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Inbal Merachum, a resident who says she suffers from asthma, explained that "during my last shift it was so busy I found myself with an inhalation mask, unable to continue functioning".
But senior doctors tried to convince the residents to fight the system with appropriate tools. Many said they understood the residents' plight, but urged them to take up there posts again.
Many have turned against the Medical Association for a developing agreement with the Treasury, with some even calling for the resignation of its chairman, Dr. Leonid Eidelman.
"We specialists will spearhead the struggle, because it is not just the residents' battle," one of the doctors listening to Eidelman's speech Thursday morning at Ichilov Hospital called out.
Eidelman, on his part, blamed the government for the rift in his association. "Government officials are behaving like the Romans – divide and conquer," he said.
Late Wednesday the Labor Court issued an injunction against the residents' strike, determining it illegal. "Any action not coordinated by the Medical Association will be considered illegal," said Judge Nili Arad.
The decision was made after Wednesday's massive walk-out, in which doctors and residents abandoned their hospital posts in order to protest against the IMA's agreement with the Treasury.
The protesting residents say they will fight the injunction in court, with organizers calling on hundreds to sign a document starting a new residents' union.
An unexpected supporter of the protest is Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman. "They should have done it sooner," he said. "We would have gotten much farther."
Litzman was in favor of cutting the residents' hours from the outset and said, "Now everyone sees I was right about the residents all long. But even when I made myself be heard, they did not support me."
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