Ma’an News Agency reports: Jewish women have been banned from working night shifts as a part of their national service at hospitals in Israel in order to avoid “contact with Arabs,” Israeli Channel 10 reported on Wednesday.
Israeli National Service Administration Director Sar-Shalom Jerbi issued the directive two weeks ago banning any volunteer shifts past 9 p.m. for women fulfilling their national service duties.
The director explained that “we reached the decision based on concern for our volunteers, and Minister [Naftali] Bennett gave his blessing.”
Naftali Bennett is the leader of the far-right Israeli political party “Jewish Home,” and is currently the minister of religious services.
Many young Jewish women in Israel choose to volunteer at hospitals in order to fulfill their national service requirements. The national service is an alternative to service in the Israeli army, which is required for most Israeli Jews.
The decision marks a victory for an intense campaign led by religious Zionist rabbis and other right-wing groups within Israel to prevent contact of any sort between Israeli Jews and Palestinians, especially between Jewish women and Palestinian men.
According to the Channel 10 report, these groups began a campaign against women’s night-time service last year after reports surfaced of “intimate relations” between some Jewish volunteers and Palestinian doctors at hospitals.
In response to the decision, the director of the Lehava organization which was involved in the campaign issued a statement lamenting that the move did not go far enough. “Unfortunately, this is too narrow and too late a step. National service should be terminated anywhere there are non-Jews,” he said.