Netanyahu discharged after surgery ahead of parliament vote on Israel's judicial reforms

Netanyahu, 73, underwent surgery on Sunday at Sheba Medical Centre in Ramat Gan, almost a week after he was hospitalised for dehydration and had a heart monitoring device implanted

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo: DW)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo: DW)
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PTI

Netanyahu, 73, underwent surgery on Sunday at Sheba Medical Centre in Ramat Gan, almost a week after he was hospitalised for dehydration and had a heart monitoring device implanted.

Doctors who rushed to implant the pacemaker later revealed that he had suffered a potentially life-threatening “transient heart block.” A heart monitor, implanted a week ago, registered the danger and issued an alert prompting Netanyahu’s immediate hospitalisation and the fitting of a pacemaker, they said.

The doctors also acknowledged that they had spotted irregularities in an electrocardiogram test when he was hospitalised last week, but had nonetheless assured the public that the premier’s heart was “completely normal”.

Official results released by the hospital and the Prime Minister’s Office at the time listed dehydration as the cause of his hospitalisation.

However, in a video statement released by Sheba Medical Centre on Sunday morning, it was revealed that Netanyahu, Israel's longest-serving Prime Minister, has a history of heart conduction problems.

The doctors also said that Netanyahu had fainted last weekend, something the PMO did not reveal at the time.

Speaking to Channel 12 news, Professors Roy Beinart and Eyal Nof from the Sheba Medical Centre described the events before the implantation of the pacemaker as “urgent.” Nof said that when Netanyahu was hospitalised on July 15, an ECG test detected an anomaly, but more intensive tests did not spot any problems.


The anomaly was a heart conduction problem that Netanyahu was known to have for years, the doctors said.

They added that he was showing symptoms of dehydration.

“Last week there was a disturbance in the ECG. Following the disturbance, [Netanyahu] underwent an invasive examination, which did not justify a pacemaker, but as is customary in such cases, a subcutaneous monitor was implanted” as a precaution, Nof said.

Last week, Netanyahu was hospitalised from Saturday to Sunday after he complained of dizziness following a trip Friday to the Sea of Galilee, where he acknowledged spending several hours in the sun and scorching heat “without a hat, without water.” Sheba Hospital then said that the doctors had completed a series of examinations and found that the Prime Minister's heart “is completely normal,” and that “at no point was any heart arrhythmia found”.

In a video message shortly before 1 AM on Sunday Netanyahu said that “a week ago they put a monitoring device. That device beeped this evening and said I need to receive a pacemaker." "I need to do this already tonight. I’m feeling excellent, but I’m listening to my doctors,” he stressed.

Netanyahu’s surgery, and the nighttime announcement that came shortly before the procedure itself, came amid rising criticism over the lack of transparency over his medical condition.

Announcements related to his previous hospitalisation were released by the hospital in coordination with his office, or by the PMO itself, leading to intense criticism. Justice Minister Yariv Levin, the architect of the overhaul, filled in as acting Prime Minister during Netanyahu’s surgery as he was required to be temporarily sedated.

The minister approved his appointment by a phone vote as Netanyahu has not appointed anyone as a permanent acting Prime Minister.

Lawmakers started discussing the coalition government's controversial “reasonableness” bill yesterday amid protests across the country.

Protesters opposing the controversial bill, part of a broad judicial overhaul proposed by the government, have held large rallies for a consecutive 29 weeks and yesterday set up a tent city, dubbed the "fortress of democracy", right next to the Knesset, the Israeli parliament.

The bill will possibly curb the power of the courts to oversee the executive and legislative branch's decisions which have evoked unprecedented anger among supporters and opponents alike bringing the country to a standstill.


The bill has divided Israeli society in two halves with threats of boycotts being made by reserve officers in combat and intelligence units.

Former heads of Mossad, Shin Bet (internal security agency) and Israel Defence Forces have also warned against the long-term impact of the proposed legislation.

Netanyahu, in his sixth term, heads an unprecedentedly hardline Israeli coalition government that has sparked more than six months of internal opposition over its plans to overhaul the judiciary.

However, supporters of the legislation have also held two large rallies, including one yesterday in Tel Aviv.

The legislation to block judicial scrutiny over the “reasonableness” of politicians’ decisions is the first overhaul bill to advance since Netanyahu temporarily froze the legislative blitz in late March.

Protesters have fought relentlessly against the judicial overhaul plans, so far successfully blocking the ruling coalition from giving itself the power to override Supreme Court decisions, strike down laws and appoint justices.

In the face of its failures thus far, the government has shifted tactics: trying to push through laws one by one.

This week, it is laser-focused on unilaterally eliminating what is known as the "reasonableness standard", the power of the High Court to block government decisions it deems unreasonable or implausible.

An “unreasonable” decision is defined as one that disproportionately focuses on political interests without sufficient consideration for public trust and its protection.

Taking away that power from the top court would not only appease the judicial overhaul’s advocates but would strengthen Netanyahu’s grip on power and allow him to take extreme measures without judicial interference.

Netanyahu is also in the midst of a protracted corruption trial, having been charged with three counts of fraud and breach of trust and one of bribery.

He has denied any wrongdoing and has asserted that he is the victim of a political witch hunt. 

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