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Doctors Vow to Continue Strike; Hunger Strikers Hospitalized

July 13, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Striking doctors derided reports Tuesday of “some progress” by Cabinet ministers toward resolving the health care crisis.

They called them “propaganda window-dressing” and continued to apply work sanctions against government and Histadrut hospitals selectively on a rotating basis.

The doctors were skeptical over word that Finance Minister Moshe Nissim and Health Minister Shoshana Arbeli-Almoslino had moved closer to agreement Monday night on second-shift use of operating theaters at the public hospitals.

The intention is to reduce the waiting list for elective surgery, variously estimated at from 15,000 to 50,000 patients who have been waiting as long as two years for non-emergency operations.

The doctors say the ministers still have not addressed the central issue of compensation to them and other medical and non-medical hospital personnel for the extra hours on duty. Nissim adamantly refuses a salary increase for publicly employed physicians.

Meanwhile, the hunger strike begun Sunday by 10 Knesset members to protest the government’s failure to resolve the hospital crisis has begun to take its toll.

Chaike Grossman, a veteran of the Mapam party, and Mordechai Virshubski of the Citizens Rights Movement were hospitalized late Monday. And Geula Cohen of the Tehiya party was taken to the hospital Tuesday suffering from general weakness and low blood pressure.

They and their colleagues, representing both left and right-wing opposition parties, said they would subsist on fruit juices and water for a week. They have been camping outside the Cabinet room since Sunday and sleeping on mattresses in the Knesset corridors.

In place of those hospitalized, two officials of the National Religious Party, which is part of the government coalition, joined the hunger strike.

They are the NRP’s secretary general, Rabbi Yitzhak Levy, and Eliezer Avtabi, chairman of its Hapoel Hamizrachi wing.

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