Failing Last-Minute Solution, MDA Stations in Yehudah and Shomron to Close

YERUSHALAYIM -
A Magen David Adom ambulance. (Flash90)

Unless a last-minute solution is attained, nearly a dozen Magen David Adom first-aid stations operating in Yehudah and Shomron will close down at 3:00 p.m. Thursday. That’s the deadline the organization has given the government for the transfer of millions of shekels to cover operating costs. Among the stations that will be closed will be the one that serves Beitar Illit, which provides first-aid services to some 60,000 people.

The stations were set to close at the beginning of March, but Deputy Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman persuaded the organization to keep the stations open for several weeks, giving the government time to resolve the issues. A second closure deadline this past Sunday was alleviated by an appeal from Yehudah and Shomron Council head Yossi Dagan.

At issue is NIS 5 million that needs to be approved by the Health, Finance, and Welfare Ministries in emergency funding to keep the stations open. Dagan on Wednesday night sent an appeal to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to intervene in the matter and push through the funding. “The situation is simply abnormal,” he wrote in a letter to Netanyahu. “We cannot remain last in line for funding while the government looks for places it can cut other programs to provide these stations with a budget. There are daily terror attacks, and just last week near Ariel a citizen and soldier were killed. We need these stations to save lives. What is going on is sheer irresponsibility.”

This is not the first year that MDA has threatened to shut the stations. According to Dagan, the root of the problem is that the stations are not included in the base budget for MDA operations, and are only funded by special decision of the government. Due to the fact that the government is officially no longer operating after new elections were called, ministers have not discussed or voted on the funding.

“We demand that this funding matter be solved once and for all, and that the stations be included in the base MDA funding, and that residents of Yehudah and Shomron have access to MDA services like all other Israelis,” Dagan wrote to Netanyahu. “The Shomron is no different than the Sharon, and we cannot accept the ongoing discrimination against residents here,” he added.