Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi / Flash 90
Bereaved families protest outside Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem against the medical treatment given to PLO secretary-general Saeb Erekat after being infected with COVID-19, October 19, 2020.

Outraged families of terror victims and activists demonstrated Monday outside Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center to protest the VIP treatment given to Palestine Liberation Organization secretary-general Saeb Erekat for COVID-19.

Members of the ‘Choose Life Forum’ and the Im Tirtzu movement pointed out that a top Palestinian Authority politician, albeit listed in critical condition, is being treated as well or possibly better than the average Israeli citizen.

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Erekat, 65, received a lung transplant in the United States three years ago after also being cared for by top Israeli physicians for at least a year prior to that. His past condition is complicating his chances of recovery this time around.

He was rushed to the hospital from his home in Jericho this past weekend. At that time his condition was listed as “serious but stable” and he was placed on oxygen. But by Monday morning Erekat’s condition deteriorated.

The father of Nahal fighter Ron Kukia, who was killed by a radical Islamist terrorist in Arad, now serves as one of the leaders of the Bereaved Families’ Voting Forum. Lt. Col. (res) Boaz Kukia told reporters, “Choose Life Forum representatives came to Hadassah Hospital to protest the presence of a terrorist who is being treated here, who heads the Palestinian Authority that supports terror by paying salaries to terrorists.

“The same terrorist takes up a bed and costs money at the expense of Israeli citizens while he and his boss encourage their murder,” he added.

Matan Peleg, director of Im Tirtzu, also pointed out, “There’s no reason why the citizens of Israel should be paying for the VIP treatment of their enemies — especially a millionaire who is a symbol of corruption. It’s absurd to be funding the enemies of Israel.”

An equally strong point was made by the Herzl and Merav Hajaj, parents of murdered Israeli Border Guard Police Officer Shir Hajaj who was slaughtered in a 2017 terrorist attack in Jerusalem while on duty: “Anyone who works to prosecute our soldiers in the International Criminal Court has no right to receive treatment in Israel. The State of Israel should not try to save the life of someone who profits from the murder of Jews.”

The medical staff and hospital administration, however, are put into a very difficult position by the political echelon of Israel, when they are “requested” to accept such a patient. No medical professional, if they are worth anything, will do anything less than his best to try to save a patient in their care, and Jerusalem’s Hadassah offers beyond exceptional care.

Hadassah Medical Center CEO Professor Ze’ev Rothstein said on Sunday, that Erekat is “receiving top-notch professional care like all serious corona patients at Hadassah, and the staff will do everything to assist his recovery. At Hadassah, we treat every patient as if he were our only patient.”

The hospital spokesperson said in a statement on Monday morning that Erekat had a quiet night, but that his condition had deteriorated during the morning and was “now critical.

“Due to respiratory distress he was put on a ventilator and placed in a medically induced coma . . . [his] treatment presents a significant challenge as the recipient of a lung transplant he is immunosuppressed and suffers a bacterial infection in addition to the corona.”

Several members of the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah faction, to which Erekat belongs, arrived at Hadassah to “check on the health” of the Fatah Central Committee members, who previously served as the chief Palestinian Authority negotiator with Israel.

At last report, the hospital said Erekat was “ventilated on high concentration of oxygen and on nitric oxide gas and is in the prone position. He has received concentrated convalescent plasma with high levels of anti-COVID antibodies.

“We have consulted with specialists from Tel Aviv, New York and Washington,” the spokesperson said, adding “Prognosis remains very guarded.”

The Palestinian Authority government decision to transfer Erekat to an Israeli hospital was only made after his condition had deteriorated, according to PA sources who spoke with The Jerusalem Post. More than a week prior, on October 9, he was already ill, and Jordan’s King Abdullah had instructed his government to provide Erekat with any medical care he needed.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.