Medical Association and Interns Hold a 24-Hour Warning Strike

Doctors, interns and medical students in Israel staged a day-long strike yesterday, Monday, May 10 that ended this morning, Tuesday.

The Israel Medical Association (IMA) called a 24-hour strike and staged several other protests that began at 7 am Monday morning, over fears that 600 doctors who were employed as an emergency measure during the COVID-19 pandemic will lose their jobs in just under two months, due to an anticipated non-renewal of funding.

During the strike, all hospitals worked on a weekend schedule and non-urgent procedures were canceled. Community clinics went out on strike in solidarity with the IMA members.

Interns block a street near Ichilov Hospital in central Tel Aviv during a previous strike held in June 2020.

Interns block a street near Ichilov Hospital in central Tel Aviv during a previous strike held in June 2020. (Photo: Mirsham)

The head of the IMA, Professor Zion Hagai said, “We found no other way to come to a compromise with the Finance Ministry… They treat doctors as if they’re disposable, replaceable tools in an operating room – this is unacceptable.” Professor Hagai continued, “We will not allow a unilateral attack to be conducted by the Finance Ministry against the healthcare system and its medical staff.”

This is not the first time the issue has been brought up in protests. Last year, some 2,500 interns protested in Tel Aviv, demanding shorter shifts. A key demand of the protesters included their being paid by the hour for hours worked overtime. Dr. Ray Biton, chair of the Mirsham Residents Organization, one of the protesters arrested during protests last year, said, “We’re doing much more than six rotations a month, and none of us manages to get more than two hours of sleep during our rotations.”

Hadash MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List) has explained the situation saying, “Because of the governments’ neo-liberal economic and social policy, Israel has been neglecting its public health system from the 1980s and the situation has grown increasingly worse since that time.” Hadash MK Ofer Cassif (Joint List) added, “After the government cheered the physicians and gave them lots of praise during the crisis, it’s quite clear that things are returning to the old neo-liberal policy where health isn’t a priority and all emphasis in funding goes to the occupation and the military.”