The leader of Israel’s parliament ordered a blood-collection crew to leave the premises on Wednesday after it refused to take the blood of an Ethiopian-born lawmaker,
“Under health ministry directives, we are unable to accept blood donors of Ethiopian Jewish origin,” a health official at the blood drive said, according to AFP.
The Magen David Adom, Israel’s equivalent of the Red Cross, runs the country’s blood bank service and has a policy to not take blood from people who were born or have lived for more than a year since 1977 in a country where HIV is prevalent, the Jerusalem Post reports.
“I thought this was behind us, but now it turns out I was wrong,” said Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein. “This unacceptable phenomenon has no place in the Knesset.”
Pnina Tamnu-Shata, the parliament’s first female Ethiopian member and the one whose blood donation was refused, said “there’s no reason to treat me in this way.”
“I’m 32, I arrived in Israel at the age of three, did my military service and have two children,” she told Israeli TV.
Following the incident, an MDA manager said that she could donate blood, but that it would be frozen. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also promised a review of the health ministry guidelines.