Palestinian health workers have called for the firing of a health officer who proposed a “regressive” child-breeding policy that fines women who give birth to five children.
On Sunday, a senior Israeli medical official expressed fears about the “Arab womb” and proposed fines for Palestinian mothers of five children to reduce the Palestinian fertility rate. At a meeting of the far-right Jewish Family Party, Gideon Sahar, head of thoracic and cardiac surgery at Beersheba’s Soroka Hospital, asked Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked about “the most difficult population,” referring to Palestinian citizens.
“When it comes to population growth and the more problematic issue of population, we’re dealing with a paradoxical problem,” explains Sahar. “On the one hand, we understand that the fertility rate is in the belly of the Arabs, and on the other hand we support this with all child allowances.
“So I think we should look at regressive child pension. The first child may receive a one, the second child may receive a one, and the third child may receive a one. The fourth child does not, and the fifth child can be fined. We have to make decisions. something,” he added. In response, Shaked said the proposal was “unrealistic” and that helping Palestinian women “simply Westernize” was the best solution.
Sahar’s remarks sparked an uproar among Palestinian Israeli citizens who are descendants of people driven from their homes in the Naqba. Palestinian health workers called his comments “racist” and called for his resignation.
Fear of Palestinian domination
The Teris Arab Doctors Association wrote a petition signed by more than 150 doctors, demanding that the doctors be disciplined. “Anyone who sees the Arab womb as a threat has no place in the health care system and cannot care for the Arab heart,” the petition says.
Following his comments, the petition said there was no way to believe that Sahar would treat Palestinian patients with the same care as Jewish patients.
“We expect the hospital authorities to take a strong stand against such statements that promote the general spirit of racial arrogance towards the entire population.”
For many years, Palestinian citizens of Israel have had a higher birth rate than other Jews, and many Israelis see this as a threat to the country’s demographic advantages. However, the Palestinian birth rate has fallen from 9.2 in 1960 to 2.9 in 2022 and to 3.0 for Jewish women.
Earlier this year, the government passed legislation banning Palestinians from reuniting with their Israeli spouses in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The new legislation extends emergency legislation passed in 2003 to prevent people from Palestine from marrying other citizens and obtaining citizenship or living in Israel.
Shade has publicly stated that the law was passed for “demographic reasons” and intended to end the “right of return”. The law has been called racist by Palestinians, who make up about 20 percent of Israeli citizens in addition to the 5 million Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.