An Arab doctor sustained moderate injuries to his hands on Friday while defending himself from a knife attack by a patient at his private clinic in Kiryat Malachi, a city of about 25,000 near Ashkelon on Israel’s southern coast. The alleged attacker is under arrest while police investigate the assault.
Surveillance footage of the clinic uploaded to Facebook on Saturday shows the doctor grappling with the knife-wielding assailant, pushing him back and then shutting the door on him.
The attack on a doctor Hamdullah Badir from the Arab city of Kafr Qasim is the latest example of violence against medical professionals in Israel, a phenomenon that Israel Medical Association President Zion Hagay described earlier this year as “a epidemic”. .”
Incidents of violence have become so widespread that in May staff at one hospital, the Galilee Medical Center in the northern city of Nahariya, went on a partial strike in protest, only to be attacked during that time by the grieving relatives of a deceased patient. .
In an interview with the Israeli Arab news outlet Arab 48, Badir gave his version of Friday’s attack.
“I was at work when one of the people who had come with a relative for treatment at my clinic suddenly stood in front of me, pulled out a large knife and tried to stab me in the upper body,” he said.
Badir went on to describe his initial surprise. “At first, I didn’t understand what was happening, but then [I started] defend myself without realizing it. I grabbed the knife, which almost severed one of my fingers, then I locked the door on him after a fight between us.”
משטרת ישראל עצרה בשעות הלילה לחקירה תושב קרית מלאכי כבן 32, בחשד שתקף איש צוות רפואי במרכז רפואי פרטי בקרית מלאכי, ובחשד לשוד דוכן פיס שביצע ביום חמישי האחרון.החשוד, זמן קצר לאחר אירוע התקיפה שאירע בליל שבת, הסגיר עצמו לתחנת המשטרה. pic.twitter.com/2riNvHkXmR
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One finger on his right hand was severed to the nerve, while on his left hand several fingers were broken.
“I am having a shock,” Badir said. “Every time I remember the details of the crime, it puts me in a difficult state of mind. I will not return to work, since I am dominated by fear, ”he said.
The doctor said it was “unbelievable” that he would suffer such an attack after more than 20 years of dedicated medical service to the Kiryat Malachi community.
Israeli Arabs are well represented in the country’s health sector. In 2021, Israeli Arabs made up 48% of new doctors in Israel, despite making up only 21% of the general population.
Many Arab medical professionals say they face discrimination in the workplace, and Israeli Arab employees of the Clalit health service signed an open letter in 2019 claiming they were systematically passed over for promotion.
Badir said he believed the response to the attack on him was silenced because he was an Arab and the attacker was Jewish.
“If the roles had been reversed, if the attacker had been an Arab and the victim Jewish, everyone would have stood up and not sat down again,” he said.
Badir also expressed concern about the increase in violence against medical professionals in general.
“In the past, in hospitals and medical centers we saw fights, some shouting at the most. But what we are seeing today is repeated attacks on medical teams, a sign of worse things to come,” he said.
To deter would-be attackers, the Israel Medical Association has proposed legislative changes that would punish attacks on hospital workers just as severely as attacks on police officers.