Litzman gets state backing on Ashkelon ER delay

Litzman insists emergency room fortified against missiles and rockets be built on a more-distant parking lot.

IDF Operation Cast Lead (photo credit: AP)
IDF Operation Cast Lead
(photo credit: AP)
The State Attorney’s Office told the High Court of Justice on Wednesday evening that the government supports Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman’s opposition to moving the graves for expansion of Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center.
It also supports the proposal to build a new emergency room reinforced against Gazan missiles and rockets on a parking lot more distant from the hospital’s main building.
However, the State Attorney’s Office conceded that choosing another site for the facility had disadvantages – the delay in construction and the significant extra cost. Therefore, during the next few weeks, an alternate proposal will be prepared and brought to the cabinet for a vote.
In the meantime, the Health Ministry spokeswoman said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (who is formally health minister) has reached an agreement with Litzman and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz to protect the existing hospital with an “exterior envelope” that will temporarily offer some protection from any attacks on the structure until the new emergency room wing is completed.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Israel Medical Association has sent a letter to Netanyahu over Litzman’s position that the much-needed reinforced emergency room at Barzilai 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.
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 himand ministry director-general Dr. Eitan Hai-Am, whom Litzman brought inless than six months ago. Hai-Am, a former director-general of SorokaUniversity Medical Center in Beersheba, is said to have threatened toresign over it.