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Lebanese children and adults wounded in the Hizbullah-Israeli crossfire in Lebanon have been invited to receive free treatment at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer. The cost will be paid by Jewish and non-Jewish donors in Israel and abroad, hospital director-general Prof. Zev Rothstein said on Sunday.
"We are not to blame for this war. We don't ask who is to blame," said Rothstein. "We have an open Jewish heart. Our aim is to save lives and reduce misery. We don't hate like the terrorists," he added.
"It is better for a Lebanese family to hear that Israelis saved their lives rather than for them to teach their children that they should kill Israelis. Our humanitarian care shows the difference between us and them."
Humanitarian treatment for Lebanese victims of the war will not come at the expense of Israeli patients, said the hospital director-general. "Israelis gain by the fact that we have experience treating patients from around the world and the region with all kinds of conditions. We have extra beds, including in intensive care and rehabilitation. We have housing for Lebanese families and food at no cost."
The Health Ministry, which owns Sheba, has been informed of the hospital's offer to Lebanese, which has been promoted on Arabic-language radio broadcasts and by a Sheba representative stationed in Cyprus, where many refugees have gone.
"The ministry is not involved. We will take all who need us, including adults. We treat Arab and Palestinian children all year round, especially those who need heart surgery and treatment for cancer; all the costs are paid by donors, especially the Safra family and the Peres Foundation for Peace."
Asked what the hospital would do if the relative of a Hizbullah fighter asked for care at Sheba, Rothstein said that "Hizbullah terrorists for their own reasons would not want to come here for treatment, but hypothetically, if a child were brought here, we would not ask whether his father is a terrorist."
"We do not distinguish between patients of any creed or nationality," said Rothstein. "In general, our Safra Children's Hospital is open to patients from across Israel, the Mediterranean region, the Palestinian Authority and the Arab world. Indeed, more than 15 percent of the cardiac surgery and cancer patients at the pediatric hospital are children coming from abroad, including the Palestinian Authority."
Sheba's Edmond and Lily Safra Children's Hospital has 150 beds serving 8,000 in-patient admissions and 60,000 emergency room visits a year. More than 10,000 infants are born there a year, including at least 1,200 requiring special or intensive care. Sheba Medical Center itself is the largest medical center in the Middle East and Israel, treating more than one million patients a year.
Ziv Hospital in Safed is currently treating a 47-year-old Lebanese woman brought by her son with bullet wounds in her back to the border. She is in serious condition, attached to a respirator and under anesthesia.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry reported Sunday that since the start of the fighting nearly two weeks ago, its hospitals have received 1,292 Israelis wounded from missile attacks. Of those, 19 are in serious condition, 37 in moderate condition and 325 suffered light physical injuries.
A total of 875 came in seeking help for anxiety attacks. Gradually, six community facilities in the North will take over from hospital emergency rooms in treating those with emotional trauma.
Health Minister Ya'acov Ben-Yizri told the cabinet on Sunday that six hospitals from Nahariya northwards were undergoing work to protect their oxygen tank facilities from missiles and that windows were being reinforced.