Hospital director and 50 Palestinians released

Israel has released the director of Gaza's main hospital, who had been accused of using the facility as a Hamas base. Mohammad Abu Selmia claimed he was tortured during his detention.

Publication: 01.07.2024 - 15:30
Hospital director and 50 Palestinians released
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Reports from the Gaza Strip indicate that Mohammad Abu Selmia, the director of Al-Shifa Hospital, was released after seven months in Israeli custody, along with about 50 other Palestinians.

In a statement recorded after his release, Abu Selmia said, "Israel is detaining everyone, including medical teams. There are prisoners who have died from torture, and doctors and healthcare workers who still need treatment."

According to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), Hamas used the hospital's resources, including electricity, to operate a tunnel system and store weapons and military equipment beneath the building. The IDF also claimed that Hamas used the hospital as a shelter for militants and brought Israeli captives there after October 7. An Israeli pathological report confirmed that Corporal Noa Marciano was killed inside the hospital.

Approximately three weeks ago, the Israeli government informed the Supreme Court that all Palestinian detainees held at the Sde Teiman detention center would either be transferred to other facilities or returned to the Gaza Strip. The report presented to the Supreme Court indicated that as of Sunday, 94 of the roughly 140 Palestinian prisoners remained at Sde Teiman. It also noted that 46 prisoners were transferred to Ofer Military Prison last week, and a new group of 45 recently arrested in Gaza was brought to the facility.

"Violations of All Laws"

Abu Selmia claimed that healthcare personnel at different facilities where he was held participated in the mistreatment, acting "against all laws." He noted that some prisoners had to have limbs amputated due to inadequate medical care.

Israeli officials did not immediately comment on the reasons for Abu Selmia's release or his allegations of mistreatment. Prison officials have previously denied accusations of mistreatment.

Right-Wing Reaction

Two far-right ministers in the Israeli government condemned Abu Selmia's release, claiming it occurred without their approval.

In November, Israeli forces raided Al-Shifa Hospital, alleging that Hamas had established a detailed command and control center within. Abu Selmia and other staff denied these claims, accusing Israel of endangering thousands of patients and refugees.

Military officials stated they found a tunnel leading to several rooms beneath the hospital and other evidence of militants being present, but insufficient proof to confirm all the pre-raid allegations.

Arrest and Release Process

Abu Selmia was detained on November 22 during a UN-led evacuation of patients from the hospital. He described his detention as "politically motivated," stating he appeared in court at least three times but faced no charges and was denied access to legal counsel.

Israel has conducted similar raids on other hospitals in Gaza, leading to their closure or severe reduction in services. Earlier this year, the army conducted a second raid on Al-Shifa Hospital, causing significant damage and alleging that militants had regrouped there.