Medical Association Holds Two-hour Strike in Protest of Judicial Overhaul

Israel’s Medical Association (IMA) launched a two-hour strike on Wednesday morning to protest the “absence of any signs of a unilateral freeze” on judicial overhaul legislation, and a lack of protection for the health system, says the medical association chairman.

Physicians’ demonstration against the far-right government at Ramban Hospital in Haifa, Wednesday, July 19, 2023 (Footage: DemocraTV)

IMA held the “warning strike” from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., threatening further action if the legislation — part of a wider, fascist plan to overhaul the judiciary — isn’t halted. Demonstrations with pro-democracy banners and chants were held by hundreds of staff members outside Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, Beilinson hospital in Petah Tikva, Assuta Hospital in Ashdod and elsewhere around the country, particularly in Tel Aviv.

IMA officials have warned of further action, with a former head of the association, Zeev Feldman, chair of the Government-Employed Physicians Union saying that “if needed, it could escalate into a full strike in the healthcare system.”

IMA issued a position paper on Tuesday afternoon outlining how it believes the elimination of the judicial reasonableness test would impact the healthcare system and the rights of patients. The paper stated that without judicial review, the National Health Insurance Law could be implemented in an unreasonable or inequitable manner, hurt a person’s ability to receive medical treatment, impact the updating of drugs and treatments covered by nationalized health insurance, and impact budgeting and the ability for individuals to receive lifesaving drugs and care.

Also on Wednesday, some 300 reservists in the army’s Medical Corps announced that they were suspending their voluntary reserve duty in protest of the judicial overhaul, a day after 161 officers in the air force reserves also said they would no longer volunteer. Outside the Tel Hashomer military base in Ramat Gan, representatives of doctors, paramedics and other staff in the IDF’s Medical Corps held a press conference to present letters they would later give to the head of the IDF Medical Corps, Brig. Gen. Prof. Elon Glassberg, in which they say they will no longer show up for volunteer reserve duty.

Meanwhile, two brigadier generals in the Air Force reserves announced Wednesday they were also ending their volunteer reserve duty in protest of the overhaul, bringing the number of protesting reservists with that rank to four. The announcements were the latest to send shockwaves through the military, which is struggling to stem a growing flood of reserve troops dropping out of volunteer duty to protest the overhaul, as defense officials warned the growing phenomenon could affect national preparedness.