A day of general strikes in the medical community culminated Monday evening with a protest at Tel Aviv's Cinematheque, with more than 100 residents protesting long hours and minimal pay.
"I earn less than my child's nanny," said one sign, while another said, "Dying of exhaustion". Protesters also yelled that they would resign.
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"We are protesting the awful terms of residents' employment in Israel," said Dr. Nir Feiler, who is working at Ichilov Hospital. "I have to live off of NIS 22 ($6.50) an hour, and I'm earning around NIS 3,800 ($1,118) a month after six years of schooling and another year of exams."
He added, "The Israeli medical system relies on doctors willing to work under slave-like conditions, and who only want the best for their patients. We’ve had it."
The residents were joined by a number of medical students who are also protesting the agreement nearly signed between the Medical Association and the Treasury, which they claim does not address their concerns.
"The agreement that is being formed does not respond to the needs of the residents, or those of the Israeli people, who need alert doctors in the ICU and other departments," said Michal Rotem, a medical student at Tel Aviv University.
Meanwhile, Medical Association Chairman Leonid Eidelman is leading a march from the IMA building in Ramat Gan (near Tel Aviv) to the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem. The march has been scheduled to last a few days, with protesters demanding Benjamin Netanyahu – also serving as health minister – intervene in the crisis.
On Monday morning, the 128th day of the doctors' protest, the Labor Court rejected the state's appeal to issue injunctions against protesting doctors prompting a general strike.
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.
Eidelman also announced he would go on a hunger strike, which many other doctors have joined. "It is beyond a doubt that justice is with us. Every patient, doctor, and nurse sees clearly that the medical system is collapsing," he said.
"Unfortunately the state is abandoning medicine, the doctors, and the patients to their fate. After 128 days of struggle we ask, where are you, Mr. Prime Minster and Health Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu?"
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