'Hadassah Mount Scopus sees regular violence'

Attacks include stonings, firebombings by east Jerusalem Arabs; center has suffered 43 attacks since beginning of the year.

Mount Scopus 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Mount Scopus 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Hadassah University Medical Center on Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus has suffered from 43 attacks on the campus by east Jerusalem Arabs since the beginning of this year – even though they constitute more than a third of patients, the Knesset Labor, Social Welfare and Health Committee heard on Tuesday.
Hospital Director Prof. Zvi Stern said that patients have choked on tear gas used to protect the hospital, a doctor has fainted and a nurse was wounded when hit by a rock.
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The committee’s acting chairman MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) – a former burns specialist and plastic surgeon at Hadassah University Medical Center before he entered politics – initiated the discussion.
Eldad noted that during the last “Nakba Day” events, 11 firebombs were thrown into the Mount Scopus campus. There is “no doubt that the hospital has to be protected,” he insisted.
Stern said that in 2010, there were 83 incidents in which residents of the nearby Arab neighborhood of Issawiya threw rocks and firebombs at Hadassah- Mount Scopus, or lit fires there.
“From the roofs of the homes, rocks are thrown at the hospital. The security personnel wear bullet-proof vests and helmets,” he said, “and staffers fear driving at night to the hospital.”
Some 38 percent of patients at the hospital are Arabs, Stern added.
Nitzav-Mishne Haim Blumenfeld, acting commander of the Israel Police Zion District, said that since last September, there have been many disruptions in the area.
As Hadassah is the “only symbol of the government in the area, I believe that the attacks from Issawiya are aimed at the hospital,” said Blumenfeld. “We think it is nationalistic action against the state. We have arrested dozens of residents aged nine to 43. Recently, we started not only to react to violence but also to initiate.... community action to strengthen the positive elements in the neighborhood. As a result, the amount of violations is declining,” he added.
Hadash MK Dr. Afou Agbaria said that “the real reason for their actions is that they are protesting against their situation. They don’t receive help for their daily problems, so they try to harm the hospital. Instead of investing in [walls] and punishment, one must think about improving the quality of their lives in infrastructure and roads, and not by repression.”
But the doctor insisted that there was “no legitimacy for violence by residents, and added that it was possible that the violence was “carried out by settlers or soldiers in Palestinian guise to create a provocation.”
MK Orly Levy-Abecassis (Israel Beitenu) suggested that the doctor serve as a mediator between the hospital and residents of Issawiya and asked him to look into channels of discussions for improving relations between the hospital and its Arab neighbors.
Kadima MK Rachel Adatto, also a physician, said that the hospital must be protected at state expense, even though it is not a government institution. “There must be responsibility towards the patients and the staff,” she said.
Eldad concluded that the Internal Security and Health Ministries must act together with the Jerusalem Municipality to increase security at Hadassah-Mount Scopus and to open channels of discussion with residents.