Dr. Mas'ad Barhoom, the director of the Italian Hospital in Nazareth for the last eight years, has been named the first Arab director of a state-owned hospital - Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya. He will head one of only eight state-owned general hospitals in the country. The Health Ministry announced the appointment of the 47-year-old Haifa native on Wednesday. Barhoom grew up in Shfaram and specialized in family medicine and health-system management. Health Minister Ya'acov Ben-Yizri congratulated the doctor on winning the public tender and said he was certain Barhoom had been chosen "on his own merit and not as a representative of a sector. Nevertheless, I am sure that Dr. Barhoom's choice will only strengthen the connection between Jews and Arabs in the North, and I am sure he will advance the hospital in Nahariya as he brought forward the Italian Hospital in Nazareth."