Hadassah Medical Center crisis intensifies, parents of the pediatric cancer patients go on hunger strike

Following a deadlock between the two sides in negotiating a solution to the Hadassah Medical Center's crisis inolving the pediatric hematology-oncology department, the patients' parents have announced they will go on hunger strike starting tonight (Sunday). Israel's prime minister has called on both sides to restore the department to its previous state and spend the next 6-12 months examining the grievances.
The Hadassah crisis' protest tent at Sacher Park in Jerusalem Photo Credit: Channel 2 News

The crisis at Hadassah Medical Center seems far from over as the parents of the sick children from the hematology-oncology department announced today (Sunday) that they will go on a hunger strike starting tonight. "We feel that all the players are not being honest, are using us for political gain and are not really trying to solve the problem,” the parents explained.

"We are going on hunger strike because we completely lost faith in the Israeli healthcare system - the health minister, the director general of the Health Ministry and of course the director general of Hadassah, Professor Zeev Rotstein," explained Shlomo Ben Dor, the father of 6-year-old Nahunya, who was previously treated in the department. "When the doctors, who are so dear to us, have no choice but to take a brave step and resign from Hadassah, because they feel that Professor Rotstein is mistreating them there."

The parents added that, in their opinion, there is no logical reason not to open a ward for the cancer patients at Shaare Zedek Medical Center. "In the current situation, Jerusalem will remain unable to provide for cancer-stricken children. Six top-level specialists and three additional residents will no longer work with children with cancer. This is an intolerable loss for pediatric cancer patients in Israel, because the number of experts in this field in the entire country is only about 40. We will go hungry so that everyone, including Health Minister [Yaakov] Litzman, will reduce their egos and do the right thing – allow our cancer-stricken children to be treated by their doctors in a place that wants them."

The Pediatric Oncology Field Hospital set up for Hadassah's patients Photo Credit: Hadassah's Pediatric Oncology Field Hospital/Channel 2 News

This morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the crisis at the start of the cabinet meeting, saying that it had been going on for too long: "Attempts have been made, by me, by the health minister, who is working tirelessly on this matter, and also by the president and others, to reach a solution to this crisis," he said. Prime Minister. "These attempts were unsuccessful, and a petition has been submitted to the Israeli Supreme Court which will be heard on Wednesday which everyone is awaiting."

"I ask the parties to make a final effort and this effort is simple - restore the situation and then give a period of six months or even a year, to assess matters," added Netanyahu. “Return to the previous situation in order to help these tired, poor and sick children suffer no more. If this matter is not resolved by this simple proposal, and since the sick children are sitting in a camp in Sacher Park, I have approached the court with a request to advance the hearing for tomorrow. There is no point in waiting another two days and causing these children anymore unnecessary suffering.”

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