katsav and gila 298 ap.
(photo credit: AP)
President Moshe Katsav categorically denied a report published in Maariv that he suffered heart palpitations and was rushed to Hadassah-University Hospital in Ein Kerem on Tuesday evening.
The newspaper also recounted rumors that the president had attempted to commit suicide, and further reported that doctors believe the president was suffering from stress symptoms, fear and panic, which could lead to a stroke or other limitations to his ability to function.
Katsav responded to the rumors of ill health while waiting to greet visiting Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, saying that Maariv had misled the public "yet again." Katsav declined to comment on the suicide rumors, nor would he say whether he would issue an official protest or denial.
Katsav said that he felt well, that there was nothing wrong with his heart, that he had no health problems, and that he had gone to hospital the previous day for a regular check-up that had been scheduled some time in advance.
Moreover, he insisted, the results of the check-up showed that he was in better condition now than he had been at the time of his previous medical examination.
Though trying to maintain a calm exterior, Katsav lost his cool as journalists persisted with their questions, and snapped a request to them in English that they should be polite and allow him to welcome the Georgian president.
The two men were not strangers to each other as Saakashvili paid a state visit to Israel a little over two years ago.
When the Georgian entourage left Beit Hanassi, there were smiles and warm handshakes all round, but Katsav's smile disappeared as the visitors took their leave. He ignored attempts by journalists to get him to answer more questions, turned his back on them, and marched back to his office.