Israeli Ministry of Health Refuses to Provide Complete Mortality Data Despite Court Order

Israeli Ministry of Health Refuses to Provide Complete Mortality Data Despite Court Order
Screenshot taken by The Epoch TImes of the Jerusalem District Court, in Jerusalem, Israel. (Google Maps)
Lia Onely

HAIFA, Israel—The Israeli Ministry of Health (MoH) is refusing to provide complete mortality data for the period of the COVID-19 pandemic despite a court order.

A court ordered the agency in September to provide all-cause mortality data by Nov. 15 following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by David Shuldman, an Israeli citizen.

The MoH did provide Shuldman with mortality data on Nov. 13. But the dataset was incomplete and did not satisfy the original request because it didn’t include segmentation by age group, leaving the data unusable for determining excess mortality, according to Shuldman.

Shuldman, a systems analyst and an economist, filed a new administrative appeal on Dec. 14 asking the court to order the ministry to provide the data as requested.

The administrative appeal was reviewed by The Epoch Times.

In a letter to the court dated Sept. 22, Retsef Levi, an expert in risk management and health systems and a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, wrote there were three main topics of importance in Shuldman’s request in order to understand the effectiveness of the messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine given in Israel: all-cause mortality segmented by vaccination status and age group, COVID-19 mortality segmented by underlying diseases and vaccination status, and children’s all-cause mortality and COVID-19 mortality segmented by underlying diseases.

All-cause mortality data is important because it can reveal when there is excess mortality over prior years. It can reveal if there is an increase in the number of people dying from COVID-19, the COVID-19 vaccine, or for other reasons.

According to the data of the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, excess mortality was observed in Israel during 2021 and in the first half of 2022, said Levi in the letter. The data do not indicate the possible causes of the increase, but they require in-depth research regarding the possible causal relationship to the vaccine or other factors, based on age segmentation, vaccination status, and underlying diseases.

Shuldman filed his original FOI on Oct. 10, 2021. The MoH has provided data in response to the FOI request three times, and each time it was incomplete.

Shuldman told The Epoch Times that he hopes to obtain data about COVID-19 and the vaccines, especially the data that is hidden from the public. “This transparency that I am trying to work towards … someone has to do it, so I try do it.”

Previous Court Hearing

After he filed his FOI, Shuldman received confirmation of his request, and he was asked to explain how he would like to receive the data. He replied, and a few days later he received another confirmation that his appeal was accepted.

On Nov. 15, 2021, Shuldman received a notice that there would be a 30-day delay in dealing with his request.

When he heard nothing back, his lawyer Ori Xabi sent a warning letter to the MoH. After more than 120 days had expired—the maximum amount of time under Israeli law for the MoH to respond—and he still had received no response, he filed an administrative appeal on Feb. 27, 2022.

A hearing was set for May 8.

A day before the hearing Shuldman received a reply from the State Attorney’s Office with a letter and data from the MoH. The data was all-cause mortality (COVID-19 and non-COVID-19) segmented by age groups.

It did not include segmentation by vaccination status.

The MoH also wrote in a letter reviewed by The Epoch Times that it was unable to provide vaccination status of non-COVID-19 deaths, claiming “there is no verification for non-corona deaths, it is not possible to provide corresponding data.”

At the hearing, Judge Yoram Noam asked Shuldman to amend his appeal to request what had not been provided in his FOI request. Shuldman complied and a new hearing was set for August.

In a letter after the May hearing reviewed by The Epoch Times, the MoH told Shuldman that it had provided “the data that it has in its possession in the form as it is saved.” Officials added that some of it had been redacted to protect people’s privacy.

Some parts of the requested data do “not exist at the Ministry,” the ministry claimed, directing Shuldman to contact the health maintenance organizations (HMOs), organizations in Israel that provide citizens with health care.

The MoH provided mortality data again in August but asked to postpone the hearing to September. The data included COVID-19 deaths segmented by age and vaccination status. It did not include all-cause mortality.

David Shuldman (R) and Avital Livny, head of the testimonies project, at the Jerusalem District Court, Jerusalem, Israel, on Sept. 29, 2022. (Courtesy of Avital Livny)
David Shuldman (R) and Avital Livny, head of the testimonies project, at the Jerusalem District Court, Jerusalem, Israel, on Sept. 29, 2022. (Courtesy of Avital Livny)

Court Order

The MoH asked to delay the hearing that had already been delayed to the beginning of September, and it was settled for Sept. 29.

About two weeks prior to the hearing, the state attorney wrote an email to Xabi to say the relevant officials were overseas and asking for a further delay. The hearing was still held.

At the hearing, the MoH did not file an affidavit for their claims and the data they had provided in August. The judge said this meant that there was legally no response to Shuldman’s appeal.

No one was willing to stand behind the data and claims of the MoH and declare that these were legally valid, said Shuldman.

Noam asked both sides if they agree to move forward without the affidavit, and Shuldman agreed. “Because my goal was to get data, not beat them in a trial.”

At the hearing, the MoH attorney said the information requested by Shuldman “is processed information,” adding that according to Israeli FOI law the MoH only provides raw data, not processed data.

“Usually the state should provide information in its raw state, and not processed information,” she said.

Shuldman said there was no need to process the data—only to sort it as many other data the MoH have already provided.

The MoH representatives agreed that in this special case the MoH would provide the requested data.

The court ordered the MoH to provide:
  • all-cause mortality, 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
Recoveries refer to a person who got COVID-19 and recovered but died because of recurrent comorbidity or any other cause of death.

Shuldman said the court’s ruling in September dealt with the points that were in dispute until the hearing, which was all-cause mortality data segmented by vaccination status.

“During the appeal process, in fact, each time it turned out that what they claimed they did not have, in the end it turned out that they did,” Shuldman said.

Incomplete Data

On Nov. 13, Shuldman received data from the MoH in response to the court order.

However, it was again incomplete.

The data the MoH provided was all-cause deaths segmented by vaccination status, but this time it did not include segmentation by age.

The data of all-cause mortality by vaccination status was provided as the court ordered it, omitting the aspects from the original FOI.

When the MoH provided the data in August, for example, on the COVID-19 mortality, said Shuldman, “they claimed that this was how they understood the request, so they provided the segmentation by age groups and vaccination status.”

It was only for COVID-19 mortality, he said. Then “suddenly, when it comes to all-cause mortality, they hide this [age] segmentation.”

Throughout the discussions in court and in the MoH’s responses, the MoH did not say they didn’t have segmentation by age groups, and “that is why it was not discussed in court,” he said.

“Therefore, there was no reference to it in the judgment either. It was not something in dispute.”

What the judge stated in the order were only the points that were in dispute.

Further Appeal

Shuldman filed a second appeal on Dec. 14, seeking all-cause mortality data segmented by age and vaccination status.

“It is clear that this agreement does not cancel what was not disputed—that is, the original requirement to segment the mortality data according to age groups,” Shuldman noted in the letter of appeal to the court.

“The ruling at the hearing on September 29, 2022, does not come to replace the freedom of information request,” noted the letter.

The letter also noted the age of the deceased is forwarded by the MoH to the Central Bureau of Statistics as a matter of routine, meaning the data is available.

“Without age segmentation the vaccination status for all-cause mortality is worth nothing,” said Shuldman. “Because the majority of the vaccinated population is the elderly and they are the ones who died,” in considerable numbers.

In order to draw any conclusions, the all-cause mortality data for vaccination status must be segmented by age groups, Shuldman said.

In the Dec. 14 letter, Shuldman appealed to the court to order the MoH to complete the data.

The MoH did not reply to numerous requests for comment.

Corrupted Data

Some of the data provided by the MoH on Nov. 13 was incorrect as well, leading Shuldman to question its accuracy.

It is possible that these errors happened accidentally while transferring the information from the source files, the Dec. 14 letter to the MoH said. They might be errors that exist in the information in the system itself and it is possible that it happened while retrieving it.

The data provided on Nov. 13 shows people died in Israel after receiving a third or fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine long before the third dose was approved. The dataset was reviewed by The Epoch Times.

“These errors cast doubt on the reliability and completeness of all the information provided,” said Shuldman.

“It means that either someone here hid this information from the public,” he said, or it wasn’t disclosed to the public that there were people who received a third dose before it was approved.

The third dose in Israel was given starting July 2021, and the fourth was given starting December 2021.

“So how can it be that people died already in January 2021” after a third or fourth dose? he asked.

Similar mistakes appeared in other months of 2021 as well.

“So if there were such people who received [the vaccine] and also passed away then it’s a catastrophe,” he said. “It is not understood how such a thing can be.”

“So either this figure is wrong or it is a figure that indicates a mistake in giving the vaccine, or for some reason that needs to be explained, something that needs to be explained because people died from it,” he said.

A second example of incorrect data, according to Shuldman, was that two sets of data were provided for September 2022, and omitting October 2022, even though the MoH reply letter noted that the all-cause mortality is until Oct. 19, 2022.

“What’s troubling about this whole issue is that we don’t know what’s correct,” Shuldman said.

Data on Children

The Nov. 13 data provided by the MoH grouped data for all children aged zero to 18, with segmentation by comorbidity.

In his original FOI request, Shuldman requested the children’s data be segmented into two age groups: 0–5 years of age and 6–12 years of age.

“They obscured the data that is important,” Shuldman said. The MoH approved vaccines for children, not the regular vaccine, up to 12 years old, after a special discussion on the matter.

“Their campaign was based on the scaremongering that the coronavirus is very dangerous for children even though the data showed that almost all of them are without symptoms,” he said. “The public needs to know the facts.”

The MoH demonstrated that it was aware of the request in the FOI to segment by age groups, because the agency provided the children’s data broken out in the requested age groups in May and in August.

Every time they gave an answer during the development of this petition, officials gave one thing but omitted another, Shuldman said.

At the court hearing in September, Shuldman said he had not received a response to his FOI section on how many children up to 12 years old, who died of COVID-19, had or had no underlying diseases.

In his Dec. 14 appeal letter, Shuldman said that the court order in September did not set out any change in the requested age groups for children.

That is why the data provided contradicts the court ruling, he said. “The ruling did not change the age set out in the request.”

After receiving the data in November, Shuldman asked the MoH to provide the data about the children’s groups as originally requested, but he did not receive a response.

‘Lost Public Trust’

“For over a year, The Ministry of Health has been avoiding from disclosing to the public the total mortality data in Israel segmented by age and by vaccination status,” Levi, who is also a member of The Israeli Public Council for the COVID-19 Crisis, told The Epoch Times in an email.

The council had been assisting Shuldman and Xabi with their first appeal.

It would be expected that the Ministry of Health would not only disclose but would also analyze the data, especially at a time when Israel is experiencing an unexplained wave of excess mortality, wrote Levi.

“It is not for nothing that the Ministry of Health has lost public trust. This is improper, unprofessional, and even dangerous conduct as it crushes the public’s trust in the health authorities in Israel. The Ministry of Health is obligated to disclose the data so that independent researchers can analyze it,” Levi wrote.

Shuldman is waiting for the court to accept his case and set a date for another hearing to request the data he asked for in his original FOI request.

The COVID-19 quarantines, the COVID-19 passports, and the mandated COVID-19 vaccines were shocking things, he said.

“We never imagined before the coronavirus that we would ever get to this situation where people are marked,” as if the unvaccinated were second-class citizens, said Shuldman, who is vaccinated.

“This whole coup in the conduct of the state against the citizens obliges us to both be shocked and do something about it,” he said. “This cannot go by quietly. Someone needs to open this issue and show that it was simply something very improper.”

Shuldman said he preferred to get the data in a more pleasant way, through FOI requests, but he said maybe there are things the MoH does not want to publish so there is no choice but to go to court.

“During this whole year and two months, when at every stage I got something that was unsatisfactory, I said ‘ok I’m moving on, not getting desperate,'” he said.