Jerusalem, Jul 19 (EFE).- The Israel Medical Association (IMA) on Wednesday held a two-hour strike with protests outside the country’s major hospitals to pressure the government into halting its controversial judicial reforms.
IMA, the country’s main public health union representing 95 percent of doctors, warned of further measures including “a full strike,” if the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not halt the reform process that limits the judiciary’s oversight powers.
Healthcare staff held a brief strike from 8.30 am to 10.30 am local time, along with several rallies outside the country’s main hospitals.
Carrying Israeli flags and pro-democracy banners, the medical staff were gathered outside Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, Beilinson hospital in Petah Tikva, Assuta Hospital in Ashdod and several other medical centers around the country.
The IMA said it had taken measures to avoid negative impacts on patients as all urgent care and critical services such as oncology, dialysis, IVF, delivery rooms and scans for pregnant women were not curtailed and affected during the strike hours.
“If needed, it could escalate into a full strike in the healthcare system,” said former IMA head Zeev Feldman.
Protesters asked the government to halt the passage in the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) of a law that eliminates the ‘doctrine of reasonableness,’ which allows the Supreme Court to oversee and revoke government decisions and appointments based on whether they are democratic or not.
The legislation, which is part of a wider controversial judicial reform and seen as a threat to democracy and independence of the judiciary, is scheduled for a final approval in the parliament next week.
On Tuesday, Israel experienced another “day of resistance” with mass protests in main cities where protesters blocked roads, railway lines and access to major cities.
Wednesday’s strike by health care personnel comes amid rising pressure on Histadrut, Israel’s main labor union, to call another general strike in the country.
Following weeks of massive protests, a general strike by the Histadrut in March forced the government to suspend its judicial reform plan for months. EFE