Israel arrests several doctors, director of Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital

Palestinians gather outside the Al-Shifa hospital complex in Gaza City, Palestine, Nov. 22, 2023. (AFP Photo)

Israeli forces arrested Thursday the director and several other doctors of the Gaza’s largest hospital Al-Shifa, according to a doctor at the facility.

The director, Mohammad Abu Salmiya, has been frequently quoted by international media about the conditions inside Al-Shifa, a major focus of the Israeli ground offensive following the Oct. 7 Hamas incursion.

The Israeli army, which raided the hospital last week, alleges without evidence that Hamas uses a tunnel complex beneath the facility in Gaza City to stage attacks.

Hamas and hospital officials have repeatedly denied the claims.

“Doctor Mohammad Abu Salmiya was arrested along with several other senior doctors,” said Khalid Abu Samra, a chief of department at the hospital.

An official of the Gazan Health Ministry told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that one other doctor and two nurses had been detained, as well as the hospital director.

In a statement, Hamas said it “strongly denounces” the arrest of Salmiya and his colleagues, calling on the International Committee of the Red Cross and other international organizations to work toward their “immediate release.”

Instructions to evacuate the hospital were issued on Saturday, prompting the exodus of hundreds of patients and displaced toward the supposedly safer south of the Palestinian territory.

Salmiya told AFP last week that he had received the evacuation order from Israeli forces after having refused a previous one.

But the Israeli army said the evacuations were carried out at the “request” of Abu Salmiya.

The military released an audio recording presented as a conversation between Salmiya and a senior Israeli officer in which the two men blame each other for the evacuation.

On Wednesday, Israeli soldiers escorted journalists to a tunnel shaft they claim was part of a vast underground network used by Hamas.

Al-Shifa hospital has been the scene of an extended Israeli special forces operation as part of its war in Gaza, where more than 14,000 people have died, most of them women and children, in indiscriminate Israeli attacks.

By Daily Sabah with Agencies

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