Lieberman promises to fortify hospitals

Beilin accuses Israel Beiteinu of "election bribery" for deciding to donate NIS 100 m. from party's budget.

beilin 224.88  (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
beilin 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Barzilai Medical Center officials in Ashkelon on Sunday that it and three other hospitals within range of Kassam and Katyusha rockets in the North will share NIS 100 million for fortification. Barzilai, Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya and Ziv Hospital in Safed are owned by the Health Ministry, while Poriya Hospital in Tiberias is owned by Clalit Health Service. Barzilai treats patients from cities and settlements under chronic Kassam attacks from Gaza, while the three in the North were under direct attack during the Second Lebanon War last year. The Health Ministry, however, did not make any such announcement, and state-owned Rambam Medical Center in Haifa - which was also under attack and has been promised tens of millions of shekels for fortification during the past year - was not on Lieberman's list at all. A spokesman for Rambam's management said it was surprised to hear of Lieberman's announcement from The Jerusalem Post. "Since the war, we have received only NIS 2m. for emergency fortification, but we see are not included among the recipients of the NIS 100m. We will speak urgently with Health Ministry management to protest," the spokesman said. Lieberman brought the good news to Barzilai director-general Dr. Shimon Scharf, who was told that the allocation had been approved due to recognition that the victims of rocket attacks put a heavy burden on the hospitals. Barzilai will get NIS 25m. and use it to build protected surgical theaters. Lieberman said he backed up the Health Ministry's reported demand for NIS 500m. more for the hospitals and that he would do what he could to get such an allocation. The Knesset Finance Committee - and especially its chairman, MK Stas Meseznikov - worked to speed up the building of protected facilities at Barzilai, where construction would begin in January, he said. Along with Scharf at the meeting were Dr. Barhoom Mas'ad, director-general of the Nahariya hospital, Dr. Calin Shapira of Ziv and Dr. Ya'acov Farbstein of Poriya. Meretz leader Yossi Beilin, however, called the contribution "election bribery." Lieberman responded that Beilin's comments stemmed from jealousy and frustration. He said Meretz had never helped the weakest sectors of the population in Israel, because the party was too busy with the Palestinians. As part of coalition agreements, every party receives funding according to its size that it can distribute to its pet causes. On Thursday, Lieberman met with the four hospital heads, who praised him for helping the periphery. At a press conference in Ashkelon, the hospital heads explained how each would use their NIS 25m. share.