Recently Dr. Eitan Hai-Am resigned from his post as Health Ministry director-general because of the cabinet’s decision to relocate the emergency room at Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center because there are ancient graves found on the site.
Israel Medical Association chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman said at a committee meeting:
“You’ve been discussing graves for the past two hours. Patients will die as a result of this decision and you are talking about (graves)…Building an emergency room far from the hospital’s main building means killing patients. You do not realize that.”
Around 70 doctors held a demonstration outside the Knesset in protest against the government’s decision. The doctors warned that moving the ward to a new location, as demanded by the haredim, “may end up costing us lives”.
Revising plans to relocate the ER would cost an extra NIS 136 million (about $36 million) and would delay the project for two years and put the facility too far from the hospital’s main building. Netanyahu instructed his director-general, Eyal Gabai, to head a task force which would reassess the decision.
The Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement that the new task force:
“will determine, together with all the relevant authorities, the possibility of erecting the secure emergency room at Barzilai Hospital in a way in which lives will not be endangered. The task force’s conclusions will be presented immediately after Pesach. Until then there will not be any work done on the facility.”
Dorfman told the committee that he cannot guarantee that there are Jewish graves at the site designated for the new emergency room, “The fact that there was no Jewish community in Ashkelon does not mean that there were no Jews there at all. We cannot reach a decision until we dig in the entire site.”
Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin, who also attended the Knesset meeting, said:
“I personally witnessed how the distance between the different hospital wards resulted in the loss of life…Building the ER at a different location will take at least three years, during which more lives will be lost.”
MK Arieh Eldad, a physician by training, said “a situation has been created in which a few bones are worth 130 million shekels,” he added “Jews know how to transfer Jewish graves from place to place, not to mention bones of Philistines.”