On December 25, 2018, Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman sent a letter to Communications Minister Ayoob Kara, asking him to order volunteer organization United Hatzalah (Ichud Hatzaolah) to stop using their special emergency number, 1221.
Litzman’s letter explains that the state should have only one, central number to receive and dispatch medical emergencies – 101, managed by Magen David Adom (MDA). United Hatzalah would receive its calls from this hub.
Last week, a copy of this letter was leaked to United Hatzalah, close to two months after it had been sent to Minister Kara.
According to a tweet by Haredi reporter Rafi Perlshtein, a little over two weeks ago, Litzman had sat with the United Hatzalah management, asking them to cancel a “huge protest against him,” only to take sides with MDA against them “only moments later.”
According to a volunteer in United Hatzalah, who spoke to The Jewish Press Online (and is unconnected to the discussions), the United Hatzalah volunteer organization never objected to Litzman’s plan when it was originally conceived.
Litzman’s goal was to create a more efficient and effective emergency medical dispatch system, the volunteer explained. MDA was ordered by the Health Ministry in 2014 (and the directives were repeated again in 2016 and 2017) to share all information, a directive, which United Hatzalah volunteers claim was never fully implemented or implemented properly.
The problems began when the 101 hotline failed to pass on the emergency calls or only passed incomplete information to Hatzalah. This problem, according to United Hatzalah volunteers, repeated itself on the new system, in which a version of the MDA App was given to United Hatzalah volunteers.
As a result, United Hatzalah continued to publicize their emergency dispatch number: 1221.
MDA spokesman, Rob Rosenthal, told the Jewish Press that the directive was repeated because it was United Hatzalah who was not complying, not MDA, he also disagreed with the United Hatzalah volunteer’s assertion that MDA did not fully implemented or implement properly the directive.
According to our sources, Kara has not acted yet to shut down the United Hatzalah number, and United Hatzalah’s dispatch responds to an average 1000 calls per day.
According to News1, the chairman of the Executive Committee of MDA, whose influence on the direction of the organization is enormous, is Avraham Mordechai Manela, a key figure in the Gur Chasidic sect, whose name has previously been mentioned as a candidate to succeed Litzman in national politics. Litzman is known as the right hand of the Gerrer Rebbe, Rabbi Yaakov Arye Alter.
Manela also serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Chevra Kadisha in Tel Aviv, and has been Chairman of the Board of Directors at Maslavi Construction since 2014. He also serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Ezra & Bizaron Housing construction company, and External Director of Isralom Properties since 2012.
The Gerrer Rebbe is one of the wealthiest men in the Haredi world and is ranked third on the list of the richest people in Israel, with a capital (as of 2012) of 350 million shekel ($97 million). He inherited his startup wealth from his father who invested in real estate before 1948.
According to News1, Avraham Manela is the de facto manager of MDA, with the authority to determine, implement and realize its objectives, decide the scope of its available services, maintain contact and interaction with government ministries, local authorities, hospitals, health funds and research and medical institutions, approve MDA’s annual work plans, approve its annual budget, financial balance sheets and its investment and development plans, and supervise their implementation.
Manela is also the man who determines the organizational structure of MDA, its standards and salaries.
This article has been updated to include a statement by MDA Spokesperson Rob Rosenthal.