Jerusalem (ANTARA News) - Hundreds of Israeli doctors did not show up for work on Monday after quitting their jobs over a salary dispute, a health ministry official said, and hospitals warned they were on the verge of collapse.

Hospitals cancelled non urgent procedures, some patients were turned away while others waited hours for treatment. "We won`t last more than a day or two like this," Motti Freid a doctor at Tel Aviv Medical Centre told Israeli television.

"Soon we will be unable to treat thousands of people, including those in danger," Pinny Halperin, head of the emergency unit at Tel Aviv Medical Centre told Israel`s Channel One news.

A health ministry spokeswoman said 700 medical residents --more than a quarter of Israel`s resident doctors, handed their notice in over a month ago. A total of 340 of them did not report for hospital duty on Monday and the rest were expected to follow suit this week.

The government petitioned the court to issue injunctions ordering doctors back to work. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu`s office issued a statement offering some doctors an increase in pay.

The doctors, who say they are over-worked and under-paid, said they had not yet received an official offer from Netanyahu but that they would study it once they did.

The doctors` resignation is another sign of social unrest in Israel. Mass protests held under a banner of "social justice" rocked the Jewish state through the summer with hundreds of thousands demanding lower living costs and economic reform.


Editor: Jafar M Sidik
Copyright © ANTARA 2011