What hospital violence in Israel reveals about occupation

A fascinating study reported in Haaretz today comes to the astounding conclusion that the behavior of medical staff in hospitals is partly responsible for outbursts of violence among patients, impressively reported by the medical staff themselves. Of 705 staff who participated in a survey about the causes of violence, 39 percent, reports Haaretz, said that their own behavior was a contributing factor to a specific incident and nearly half – 48 percent – said that generally staff behavior contributed to such incidents. Another ten percent said violence was linked to prolonged waiting times. The study was conducted by by Sigal Shafran-Tikva for her PhD reserach, at Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem.

I’m pleased that there is research into this disturbing social problem. The conclusions seem like a logical and honest appraisal of human nature. Here’s what the article, and the author of the study had to say:


“…factors precipitating violence included lack of respect, lack of awareness of service and a disrespectful tone of voice on the part of medical personnel…[the Hebrew version of the article added the terms: “pretentious and dismissive” behavior – ds]…

‘In every one of those situations, hurt feelings were prominent and went both ways between attacker and victim and each side blamed the other,’ Shafran-Tikva said.

However, the research notes, ‘medical personnel who are violently attacked are not to blame for it, and there is no justification for violence … But the medical team can act responsibly and avoid contributing to escalation of violence, and they should be given the tools to do so.’


If you replace the words “medical staff” and “patients” with “Israeli occupying structures” (whether it’s the government or the army, civil administration or the military justice system, etc.) and “Palestinian society” (people, leaders, institutions, infrastructure) it’s really easy to understand dynamics on the ground. So why do so many people refuse to understand?