Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90
Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, March 24, 2020.

An unusual incident occurred on Shabbat in the oncology ward of Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Hospital, in a room where a Jewish and an Arab patient were treated. According to N12 (שערי צדק: תקרית אלימה בין משפחה ערבית ליהודית), the Arab patient died on Shabbat, and his family members came to say goodbye. Members of the Gerstel family were visiting their sick father at the same time, and following an exchange between the families, the grieving Arab family threw a chair in the air at the Jewish family. Police were called to the hospital and opened an investigation into the incident.

Elimelech Gerstel, the son of the Jewish patient, told N12: “My father is hospitalized in the oncology ward, and my mother, brother, and sister came on Shabbat night to visit him. An Arab patient in the ward died and dozens of people came in and flooded the room where three patients are lying and there’s not much space. My sister asked them not to crowd the room so much and they attacked her and threw a chair at her. The police came to collect testimony from my sister.”


According to him, the tension between the families began even before, when the Jewish visitors sang Shabbat songs to their father. “My brother came back from dinner and started singing Shabbat songs,” Elimelech said. “The man who hit my sister started getting angry and attacked him, too, claiming that the Shabbat songs were bothering him. This is a very serious incident, I hope the police will bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Perhaps. Perhaps not. Take a look at the official response of the Shaare Zedek management:

We take every case of violence seriously and deal with it immediately and without compromise. Police were called in following the conflict between the families and we are conducting a comprehensive investigation. We take care of the safety and security of all patients at Shaare Zedek and will continue to do so.

Sure, but when the violent attack by angry Arabs on Jews who sing Shabbat songs is described as “the conflict between the families,” you know there won’t be any bringing of the perpetrators to justice. Because we take care equally of the safety and security of all patients at Shaare Zedek, those who throw the chairs and those who provoke others into throwing chairs at them.


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