Israeli Supreme Court: State must clarify why it won't allow leavened bread products in hospitals during Passover

Following Adalah petition against Health Ministry policy, state obligated to find proportionate solution that won't violate patient rights.

The Israeli Supreme Court on 5 March 2019 issued an interim injunction ordering the Israeli Health Ministry to state the reasons why it will not allow unleavened bread products to be brought into hospitals during the Passover holiday. It also ordered the ministry to determine procedures that would enable the observation of Jewish dietary laws in relation to food served by hospitals.


The state was also ordered to also explain the use of security guards for the purpose of enforcing Jewish dietary laws "including by way of comments to persons entering a hospital".


The decision was delivered after a hearing on a petition filed by Attorney Sawsan Zaher of Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, and included severe criticism by the justices of the state's proposal to erect segregated areas for people to consume unleavened products. This followed the state’s withdrawal of the cancellation of its original response and its decision to introduce this alternative in locations where guards are stationed in buildings within the hospitals.


Adalah continued to insist that the court issue an interim injunction as the proposed policy does not provide a proportionate alternative to the existing situation, and humiliates and demeans the patients.


Adalah Attorney Sawsan Zaher stated in response:


"The court has clearly indicated to the state that coercing persons entering a hospital is unreasonable and disproportionate, and that a balance must be found to protect the right of hospital visitors to keep Jewish dietary without violating the individual freedom of Arab patients and employees, and others who do not observe the Jewish laws. The court said that the segregated areas proposed by the state and the Rabbinate – which would degrade patients – are not a viable or feasible solution. The decision regarding the security guards is also of great importance, as the deviation from their designated powers for the purpose of enforcing Jewish dietary laws leads to a violation of the rights of patients and their dignity."


(Photo: Daniela Kloth/Wikimedia Commons)