Safed's Sieff Hospital takes missile hit - and seeks NIS 70m. for protection

The missile caused a quarter of the hospital's windows to shatter.

Safed's Rebecca Sieff Hospital, hit by a Katyusha rocket on Monday night, is seeking NIS 70 million for additional, fortified buildings and facilities that would serve not only in the event of rocket attacks but also in the event of an earthquake. The missile caused a quarter of the hospital's windows to shatter, said the hospital's Deputy Director-General Calin Shapira, and the pieces of glass wounded eight people lightly, two of whom needed stitches. The missile hit a ground-floor room, not used as a hospitalization ward, while the hospital was admitting 13 victims of other missile attacks in the area. The staff said that if the wards or oxygen supplies had been hit, it would have been a major disaster. Health Minister Ya'acov Ben-Yizri canceled his regular schedule Tuesday and drove to Safed to visit the hospital, where he offered moral support to staffers and praised them for continuing to work normally despite the frequent shelling of the city. "There is no doubt there was a miracle, as only physical damage was caused and nobody was seriously wounded," the minister said. The minister did not make any promises about major development and protection of the hospital, but the Treasury has allocated money for basic protection, including replacing damaged windows. "We need fortified structures on the side of the main structure to which we can move patients in an emergency. Remember that this city has a history of serious earthquakes," said Shapira. A quake some 170 years ago nearly destroyed Safed. The hospital, with 304 beds in 37 departments, is located in the south of the city and serves a population of 120,000 Jews, Muslims, Christians, Beduin and Circassians in the Galilee and the Golan Heights. It was built in 1910 by Baron de Rothschild and was originally meant to treat tuberculosis patients. But when Christian missionaries used their medical facilities to target Jews who needed medical care, residents persuaded Rothschild to expand it into a general hospital. In 1918, the Hadassah Women's Zionist Organization took it over and ran it for 40 years until ownership was transferred to the Health Ministry, which rebuilt it. When Golda Meir was prime minister, she offered to name it for Rebecca Sieff, the noted British Jewish philanthropist and founder of WIZO. The last time the hospital underwent significant renovation was in 1973, before the Yom Kippur War. It has 1,100 staff, including 180 doctors and 500 nurses, most of whom have reported for work despite the Hizbullah missile attacks on Safed.