Nurses across Israel launched a strike on Monday to protest staff shortages, which have added to the heavy strain they already endure as they battle the coronavirus pandemic.

Representatives of the Nurses Association and the Finance Ministry met in a last-ditch attempt Sunday night to prevent the walkout, but failed to reach an agreement.

The strike will affect hospitals, the Clalit and Meuhedet HMOs, as well as Tipat Halav Family Care Centers across the country, according to Channel 12. Non-urgent surgeries will be postponed starting on Monday, while COVID-19 and oncology wards will not be affected.

At HMO clinics, nurses will continue to administer insulin shots to diabetes patients and assist with fertility, oncology and gastrointestinal treatments. Vaccinations in preparation for travel abroad and general blood tests will be either postponed or carried out in a limited format.

Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein arrived at Ichilov Hospital Monday morning to express support for the nurses, saying, saying, “I am with you in your struggle. I have great appreciation for your wonderful, dedicated and vital work.”

Edelstein explained that the shortage of personnel is not just because of COVID-19, but is an ongoing and growing problem in Israel’s health system.

He promised to bolster the system with “quality personnel” once Israel is able to defeat the coronavirus.

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