MDA cancels plans to cut services around Israel

Ambulance service and operating hours of employees will be lowered due to the cuts that begin on Wednesday night.

Magen David Adom ambulances (photo credit: MAGEN DAVID ADOM)
Magen David Adom ambulances
(photo credit: MAGEN DAVID ADOM)
Magen David Adom Director General Eli Bin informed Yesha Council Chairman David Alhayani that cuts in MDA services that were planned to take effect around the country on Thursday were cancelled. It is unclear why MDA decided to cancel the changes.
MDA had announced on Wednesday that it planned on narrowing operations in the West Bank, Gaza border areas and along the northern border due to a NIS 5.5 million debt owed by the government to the ambulatory organization, according to Channel 12.
Ambulance service and operating hours of employees were going to be lowered due to the cuts that begin on Wednesday night. Some operations in the West Bank, the North and the Gaza border area were going to be canceled completely. The organization stressed at the time that it "will continue to provide services from existing MDA stations."
""The ministry has not paid debts owed to the organization for 2019 and is striking a mortal blow to the ability of MDA to carry out its role," wrote an MDA official to local authorities in the South.
Local authorities told Health Minister Ya'acov Litzman "see with severity the ineffectiveness and contempt of the State of Israel for the safety and security of citizens of the North. It is inconceivable that residents of the North in towns along the border with Lebanon and Syria, won't be able to receive immediate, lifesaving medical response because of the failure to pass the budget. This is the abandonment of human life for bureaucratic reasons."
"MDA provides additional services in Judea and Samaria at the request of the government for which it’s supposed to receive some funding, one of the few things for which MDA receives government money," an MDA spokesperson told The Jerusalem Post. "However, despite this money being allocated, MDA has not received any of the promised funds in more than two years and is owed more than NIS 6 million."
"The government doesn't count residents of the periphery in the north and south. We demand that there be equality with the budgets of Judea and Samaria. Israelis in Judea and Samaria also deserve all services, definitely MDA services, but the reality in which everything goes there without delay, while the south and north wait needs to be changed immediately," said Labor leader Amir Peretz in response to the announcement by MDA.
"Citizens are forced to pay the price of the failure and lack of responsibility of the government, and in this case, the price could be their lives. The money exists, the order of priorities doesn't. We will restore it to be such that a human being comes before all," added Peretz.
In March, a similar stalemate was ended after weeks of negotiations between Israeli government officials and representatives of MDA, when the government agreed to fully release funds allocated for MDA to provide the enhanced EMS services the organization provides in Judea and Samaria.
In January of last year, MDA announced that it would halt the functioning of some of its ambulances during the night shift due to budgetary constraints. Instead, MDA said it would require the heads of the settlements to take responsibility for treating and evacuating sick and injured people as they did before the national ambulance and first-aid service took it over. MDA retracted its statements but entered into negotiations with the government.
A study by the Knesset Research and Information Center published ahead of the "Periphery in the Center" convention earlier this month found that one out of four residents of the periphery give up medical care because it would require them to travel far to receive care, according to Ynet.
Last week, multiple bus companies warned that they would have to stop operating after the government refused to pay the companies for the public transportation services they provided in the past year. The strike was canceled after Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich promised that the funds would be transferred.
Kaviim, one of the companies that threatened to strike, stressed that they agreed to continue providing public transportation services "within the understanding that this incident of the funds being refused by the Finance Ministry will not happen again."
Tzvi Joffre contributed to this report.