Welcome to Israel’s northernmost hospital, located in Safed, a destination that infuses hope and wellness into our corner of the world. As you drive up to our door, the story of Ziv Medical Center becomes evident and easily shared. Our people and location embody Israel’s authentic spirit of inclusion and diversity, transcending religions, cultures, and history.
A mere seven miles from Hezbollah in Lebanon and 19 miles from Iran’s Syria, our corner of the world is complex. We exist amid a fierce jumble of expectations. However, our mission is clear: to lead our region and country into a future of health, readiness, and resilience, ensuring the well-being of all our people.
People often ask me, why, having spent 25 years in the IDF, I retired for a mere 28 hours before embracing the responsibility of leading Ziv hospital into its future. My answer is simple and honest: I swore an oath as both a civilian and a military physician to save lives, regardless of friend or foe. This commitment is ingrained in Israeli culture and strengthens the tapestry of our nation. When duty calls, we rise above headlines and fears to care for one another.
Life as a military doctor
During my tenure as a military physician, I had the privilege of constructing and commanding an IDF military field hospital on the Israeli-Syrian border and extending a humanitarian hand to those Syrians who were evacuated to Ziv Medical Center. Earlier, Ziv’s staff had been treating the Lebanese people until 2000, when the borders with Lebanon were closed.
Extending humanitarian aid is only one part of being too close to Syria and Lebanon. Unfortunately, the biggest challenge is to be ready for wartime. The war bells from Hezbollah are ringing again, reminding us at Ziv about the Second Lebanon War in 2006, when over 1,500 wounded soldiers and citizens were treated here, even as a missile struck our facility. Security challenges in the area are the order of the day and demand the highest preparedness and readiness.
Undoubtedly, we face big routine challenges, not only the necessity of being ready for emergencies. Disparities in health statuses between the center of Israel and the periphery, which includes the Galilee and the Golan, are evident. Our population – a wonderful mosaic of religions and traditions, including Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, Bedouin, and Circassians – deserves healthcare service equal to that received by those with access to prestigious medical institutions elsewhere.
With new medical services being inaugurated and better facilities and technology already available at Ziv, my staff as well as the local Galilee and the Golan authorities, the government, and our generous partners are proud of what has been accomplished. And we are excited to overcome the still-existing gaps. We all are working together to build a bridge to the future, where peace and prosperity thrive. Our oath is to save lives, prevent illness, and strengthen the spirit of all our brothers and sisters.
As National COVID Officer during the pandemic, I witnessed how different regions coped with the extraordinary challenges of the global crisis. This experience has fueled our determination to pursue transformative healthcare opportunities for all our people, ensuring their well-being and a brighter future for us all.
As the first Druze to lead an Israeli hospital, I carry the honor of my village, my people, the IDF, and my beloved nation of Israel. Lighting a ceremonial torch in Jerusalem to celebrate Israel’s 71st Independence Day was a testament to this commitment. Now, as we forge a future centered on access, community, and good health, I pray that my great-great-great grandchildren will stand alongside your great-great-great grandchildren and recite Psalm 33 together: “How great it is when we dwell together in unity.”
I invite you to join us on our path to health, readiness, and resilience.
Plan a visit to Ziv Medical Center and experience the warmth and traditions of our people. Become our extended family in Israel and be part of this transformative journey. Together, we will build a future where hope, wellness, and equality reign supreme.
The writer, an IDF reserve colonel, is the CEO of Ziv Medical Center. To connect: MenahelZiv@ziv.gov.il