Relieved cancer patient thanks supporters

Inside the Knesset on Monday, political officials were quick to spin the resolution of the health budget crises as a "non-partisan issue" that had been achieved by all parties working together. Outside, however, the protesters who had embarked on a 16-day hunger strike said that it was a "no-partisan issue." "Who could I thank or give credit to? The people of Israel who rallied to our cause - not the politicians," said Ella Klein, one of the hunger-strikers. Klein and three others had begun their protest over the colon cancer-fighting drugs Avastin and Erbitux, which were not slated to be included in the 2006 health Budget. For more than two weeks, the four camped outside the Knesset and met with various political officials to argue their case. Dozens joined in the protest, pitching their tents alongside the original four. "I had to come here, as soon as I saw Ella on TV," said one young Tel Aviv teen, who asked not to give his name. "I have joined the hunger strike for three days now." As sundown neared Monday, the protesters were wrapping up their belongings and preparing to return to their daily lives. "We can't begin eating right away, we have talked to medical experts and there is a process that we must go through to begin eating again," said Klein. Klein and another young man were protesting in honor of parents suffering from colon-cancer. The two other hunger-strikers were currently being treated for colon-cancer when they engaged in the strike against their doctors' orders. Many officials have condemned the hunger strike, claiming that the protest was a "media ploy." "There are so many dire issues in this state, if everyone went on hunger strike what could we do? We have to be rational about our decisions," said one Health Ministry official. Klein, however, said that there was no doubt in her mind that their fight had been just and necessary. "If there is a drug out there that saves lives, literally saves lives, not just extends them, how could you not give it to people?" she asked. Klein said she would return to her mother on Tuesday, and wait for the first treatment of Avastin to arrive before she let out her breath.