Amid rising violence, cabinet okays permanent police presence at 28 hospitals

Starting next year, police booths will be placed at every public hospital in the country, cabinet ministers decided Sunday.

The decision comes on the heels of recent violent incidents directed toward medical teams in several medical facilities across Israel.

While the plan’s outline has been approved, police said they will only be able to begin implementing it by the end of the first quarter of next year.

The decision is not dependent on the survival of the current coalition, according to the Walla new site, as it will require a new cabinet decision to be canceled.

“We’ve just approved my plan for placing police booths in hospitals across the country,” Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said in a tweet.

“The violence that is being directed at medical teams must be stamped out and quickly — and that is exactly what we’re doing. Zero tolerance for violence in hospitals,” the minister added.

The plan will include a permanent presence at 28 public hospitals and medical centers by 48 designated police personnel and an annual budget of NIS 20 million.

Earlier this month, medical staff and doctors working at public hospitals and clinics announced a strike in protest of the mounting violence.

The strike was called after family members of a patient who died at a Jerusalem hospital attacked medical staff and caused significant damage to the intensive care unit after they were informed of his death.

One demand put forth by the Israel Medical Association, which organized the strike, was for police presence in every emergency room and improved security systems.

The association also urged a change in legislation so that an attack on medical staff would be viewed with the same severity as an attack on a uniformed police officer.

A day before the strike, medical staff at the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya were assaulted by dozens of people, mostly family members, after they were notified of the death of their relative, a 28-year-old man who had been in a motorcycle accident.

Video from the scene showed the crowd, mostly family members, scuffling with hospital guards, who were forced to use pepper spray to disperse them.

Recent months have seen an increased wave of attacks against medical teams and facilities across the country.

In November, nurses at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center held a strike for several hours in protest of a violent incident in which staff members were beaten and threatened by the family of a dying cancer patient.

Earlier the same month, Rambam said it had to forcibly remove dozens of people who gathered outside the facility after a victim of violence was brought there for treatment. According to hospital officials, riot police were called to the scene to prevent the crowd from entering the hospital.

And in Beersheba, four people were hurt and 19 were arrested in a massive brawl outside Soroka Medical Center that included gunfire.

In 2017, in one of the most severe cases in recent years, a man burned 55-year-old nurse Tova Kararo to death at the Holon clinic where she worked.

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