The strike will affect hospitals, clinics and health centers across the country. Operating theaters and hospital wards have already announced that they would be moving to a limited footing for essential services only.
"We are not slaves," said Edward Hadad, chairman of the Association of Nurses at Galilee Medical Center in the northern city of Nahariya.
"The fight is over a chronic shortage of nurses that has been going on for years."
He said that the lack of staff had dramatically increased the workload on nurses.
"Nurses have to do more tasks that keep them away from the patients," he said.
"More than one thousand nurses work in the hospitals - but here we are still short of 145 staff."
The collapse of negotiations with the Finance and Health ministries, which triggered the strike, was followed Monday evening by protests by nurses outside the Health Ministry building in Jerusalem.
Iris Avital, a nurse in the Ramle district, said that the workload has been increasing with no extra pay or staff to cover it.
"From the 1980s until today, the situation has only been getting worse," she said. "We have had endless extra tasks added, the population is growing and we do not have any additional manpower. During the recent measles epidemics, nurses canceled their Passover holidays and came to work in order to vaccinate everyone - to this day they have not received the money for this work."
Lilach Eliahu, a nurse at the Women's health center in Bnei Brak, also said that the profession had become far more demanding over the years.
"The role of a nurse in a community is not what it was 40 years ago," she said. "A nurse used to do simple tasks and today the job has changed and expanded. Every few minutes, a new task comes along. – how can we deliver modern treatment with old-fashioned norms?
"It's time for the Health Ministry to change nurses' workloads in a manner appropriate to the number of tasks and procedures that they have been given over the years."
Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov said Tuesday that the ministry was ready "to sit down and examine which tasks are unnecessary."
"We are constantly working to make the job more pleasant and less of a burden, but we are adamant that at the end of the day, these tasks must be done," he said.
"We are aware of the hard work that the nurses do," he said. "This is a physically debilitating job with a reality of ever-increasing workloads. We must end this industrial dispute in a peaceful way and not escalate it."
He added: "This strike is unnecessary, and we have been forced to go to the Labor Court to resolve the conflict."
Deputy Health Ministry Yaakov Litzman said Tuesday that the strike was causing "unnecessary suffering" to patients.
Speaking at a conference at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, Litzman said he would ask the Labor Court to issue an injunction ordering the striking nurses to go back to work.