In the past week, the Bikur Holim hospital in Jerusalem has turned away at least three Eritrean asylum seekers, according to a report in Maariv (Hebrew).
After experiencing severe stomach pains, Nestah Ibrahim, a 21-year-old Eritrean woman who arrived in Israeli legally, was transported to Jerusalem’s Bikur Holim by ambulance. There, hospital workers asked her if she had money to pay for the visit. When she told them she did not, they told her to go somewhere else.
Speaking to Maariv, Ibrahim says,
I tried to explain to them that I’m new here, that I don’t have status and rights but they weren’t convinced and they told me: "Go to a different hospital." I asked them to at least give me pills to make the pain go away but they did not agree to give them to me.
Earlier this month, Ynet reported that a Tel Aviv hospital, Sourasky Medical Center, will limit admissions of and ban visits by African asylum seekers "out of concern for the spread of infectious diseases to other patients."
While a number of African patients have been found to have tuberculosis, the plans put forth by Sourasky’s Director General, Gabi Barbash, will separate African and Israeli women in the maternity ward even if the former have been found to be free of infectious diseases. African and Israeli babies will also be separated.
Israeli doctors responded by condemning what they called "patient care apartheid."
The Ministry of Health also slammed the move, calling it "racist."
Following the outcry, Sourasky Medical Center eased the restrictions.
The phenomenon of refusing or limiting African patients is not new. In early 2011, for example, an Eilat doctor refused to care for a pregnant African woman, telling her that he does not tend to Sudanese. In late 2010, an Eritrean man who had been attacked on the street by an Israeli man in Ashkelon was turned away from a local hospital even though he was bleeding.