Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu admitted to hospital

Netanyahu, 73, undergoing medical assessments at Sheba Medical Center and is in stable condition, his office says.

FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convenes a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, April 2, 2023. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/Pool/File Photo
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convenes a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem on April 2, 2023 [Ronen Zvulun/Reuters]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been taken to hospital after feeling dizzy but is in good condition, his office said, adding that it appeared he was suffering from dehydration.

“The prime minister arrived at the Sheba Medical Center a short while ago,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement on Saturday.

“He is in good condition and undergoing medical evaluations,” the statement said.

In a joint statement with the hospital, his office said Netanyahu had visited the Sea of Galilee, a popular vacation spot in northern Israel, on Friday. The country is in the midst of a summer heatwave, with temperatures in the mid-30s Celsius (mid-90s Fahrenheit).

According to the statement, Netanyahu began to feel “mild dizziness” on Saturday and his doctor instructed him to go to the Sheba Medical Center, near the city of Tel Aviv. The hospital is well over half an hour away from Netanyahu’s seaside residence in the coastal town of Caesarea.

“Preliminary tests came out normal and nothing abnormal was found,” the statement said. “The initial assessment is dehydration.”

It said that doctors had recommended he remain in hospital for further testing.

Reporting from outside Sheba Medical Center, Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Jamjoom said Netanyahu’s personal physician has been quoted in Israeli media outlets as saying that the prime minister was doing well.

“What’s been reported in the Israeli media outlets is that the prime minister had reportedly been experiencing chest pains earlier in the day, that he wanted to go to the hospital for an evaluation, and that his own convoy brought him here,” Jamjoom said.

The weekly Israeli cabinet meeting that usually takes place on a Sunday will be cancelled and will now be held on Monday, Jamjoom added.

In a video recording released several hours later, Netanyahu said he spent time on the lake with his wife “in the sun, without a hat, without water”.

“Not a good idea,” Netanyahu said, noting however that he was now feeling better.

“Thank God, I feel very good,” he added. “I feel very well.” He also implored Israelis to “spend less time in the sun” and “drink more water” in the wake of the country’s hot weather.

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid issued a statement wishing Netanyahu a “full recovery and good health”.

“Feel better,” Lapid said on Twitter.

By Saturday evening, Energy Minister Israel Katz, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, told Israel’s Channel 13 TV: “He’s coming back to work. This event is behind us.” He did not say when the prime minister would resume work.

Netanyahu, 73, is said to be in generally good health, though he was briefly admitted to hospital last October after feeling unwell during prayers on Yom Kippur, a day when observant Jews fast.

He was also admitted to hospital last January for a colonoscopy.

Weekly protests resume in Tel Aviv

Netanyahu has served as prime minister of Israel intermittently for more than 14 years.

The conservative leader is in the eye of the storm over his plan to overhaul the judiciary. Tens of thousands of Israelis have taken part in weekly protests against the plan, which opponents say would derail a system of checks and balances and concentrate power in the hands of Netanyahu and his allies.

The protests are putting quite a bit of pressure on Netanyahu and his far-right wing coalition, Al Jazeera’s Jamjoom said.

“Why we are seeing so much more anger in the last few days is because in the past week you had the passage of the first reading – the first vote – on one of the bills associated with those very contentious package of laws that would weaken the judiciary,” he explained, at thousands protested for the 28th week in Tel Aviv.

There are still two more rounds to pass before the bill becomes law, Jamjoom added.

“The organisers of these protests said they are going to have what they call a ‘day of resistance’ starting next Tuesday and that there will be protests planned throughout the week,” he said.

“They want to get the message out to Netanyahu, that they will not stand for him trying to get these laws enacted.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies