HAIFA, Israel—Following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from an Israeli citizen, the Jerusalem District Court has ordered the Ministry of Health to provide information on the vaccination status of deceased people and other information.
The Ministry of Health (MoH) has until mid-November to provide:
- total mortality, for any reason, including COVID-19, noting the vaccination status of the deceased, the vaccine doses, and recoveries
- data about child mortality from COVID-19, noting whether the deceased did or did not have comorbidities
- COVID-19 mortality with the data segmented by comorbidities and according to vaccination status
The order came after David Shuldman, a systems analyst and an economist, filed an FOI request in 2021 for mortality data broken down by vaccination status. He also asked that deaths among people who recovered from COVID-19 be noted.
Shuldman filed an administrative appeal after the MoH failed to respond for four months.
MoH was also ordered to reimburse most fees as well as pay expenses.
Shuldman told The Epoch Times that he hoped the MoH would publish the data but since they didn’t, he decided to try to get it and publish it himself.
“I don’t want to publish data analyses. I don’t want to rely on analyses that are unofficial. My goal is to get the Ministry of Health to investigate this issue, to publish the data properly, in an official way,” he said.
MoH did not respond to a request for comment.
Three days after the court order, Kan 11, an Israeli state-owned broadcaster, announced the MoH is going to study excess mortality to see whether the higher-than-normal deaths recorded during the pandemic are linked to COVID-19 vaccinations.
At the end of December 2020, the state of Israel launched its COVID-19 vaccination program called “Give a Shoulder,” asking citizens to get vaccinated.
Shuldman heeded the call.
“I was vaccinated twice,” he said. “My son really tried to convince me to wait. … We continued to argue until August 2021.”
“I realized that my son was actually right,” he said.
Shuldman said he was astonished when his 60-year-old neighbor suffered from cardiac arrest and died just 10 days after a booster.
This was a red light for him, and he started to think about the safety of the vaccine.
After looking for information and doing some analysis of his own Shuldman submitted a FOI application on Oct. 10, 2021, asking for segmented COVID-19 death data. He received an initial response accepting his request but didn’t hear anything else.
After four months, Shuldman sent a legal notice to the ministry, warning that action may be taken. When he didn’t receive an answer, he filed an administrative appeal.
That drew a response. In April the MoH provided data, but it was not complete.
“They ignored most of the data I requested. They claimed they didn’t have it,” Shuldman said.
“I asked for a segmentation of total mortality according to vaccination status and recovery. They did not give it. They only gave segmented coronavirus mortality [data].”
So Shuldman appealed.
In September, Shuldman had a hearing with the MoH.
At the hearing, an MoH attorney said that in terms of how they understood Shuldman’s FOI appeal, they had already provided the data to him: segmentation of COVID mortality by vaccination status and the number of people hospitalized and deceased segmented by comorbidity.
The judge responded that Shuldman had requested data about mortality for any reason and not necessarily because of COVID-19, including the vaccination status. And the same goes for hospitalization.
He said: “Your answer does not address this request at all. In your reply, you claimed that the petitioner requested data about deceased because of COVID when his request was different regarding this factor.
“The question is if this data can be provided to him?” the judge asked.
MoH’s Attorney said that maybe this data had been given to Shuldman in a previous hearing.
However, the judge said that according to his examination it had not.
The MoH attorney conferred with officials and after a break came back and said they could provide the data.
“[Shuldman] got data beyond the data we need to provide by the law,” the MoH’s attorney said, according to an official court document summarizing the hearing and court order.
“There are additional requests flooding the Ministry of Health that the ministry needs to address,” she said.
The MoH and Shuldman agreed that the MoH will provide the data by Nov. 15.
The Israeli Public Emergency Council for the COVID19 Crisis, which assisted Shuldman, said in a Telegram post: “It is sad and serious that instead of analyzing the data of excess mortality in Israel, the Ministry of Health was fighting in court to hide the data from the public.”