IMA complains to PM over Litzman's stance on emergency room

Deputy health minister opposes building of reinforced medical facility in Ashkelon over a Byzantine-era Christian cemetery.

March 3, 2010 04:44
1 minute read.

Litzman. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

The chairman of the Israel Medical Association has sent a letter to Prime Minister (and formally Health Minister) Binyamin Netanyahu over Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman’s position that a much-needed reinforced emergency room at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon cannot be built over a Byzantine-era Christian cemetery.

Litzman, a Gur hassid from United Torah Judaism, claims it is an old Jewish cemetery, but archeologists deny it. The plot planned for the project was discovered a few years ago to have human bones, causing haredi groups to fight the project.

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Litzman insists that an emergency room fortified against missiles and rockets from Gaza be built on a more-distant parking lot, which would take several more years to complete and cost an extra NIS 100 million.

The Association of Hospital Directors has already come out against Litzman, and now IMA chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman has offered his organization’s support. He told the prime minister that the delays could easily risk the lives of patients and personnel at Barzilai.

“One can only be shocked at the delays against fortifying hospitals as if Israel has had no wars,” Eidelman said.

Litzman’s position on the emergency room has caused tension between him and ministry director-general Dr. Eitan Hai-Am, whom Litzman brought in less than six months ago. Hai-Am, a former director-general of Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba, is said to have threatened to resign over it.

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