The biggest hospital in Gaza, Al-Shifa, had its director and many medical staff detained by Israeli soldiers on Thursday. The head of the hospital, Dr. Mohammad Abu Salmiya, has been widely mentioned by foreign media about the situation inside Al-Shifa, which is a primary target of the Israeli ground onslaught that followed the October 7 bombings by Hamas.
According to Palestinian health authorities, two nurses and another doctor were also taken into custody after the arrest. The Israeli army claims that Hamas militants staged strikes using a tunnel network under Al-Shifa during last week’s operation on the hospital. But hospital administrators and Hamas have continuously refuted these allegations.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is being questioned by Gaza’s Ministry of Health in response to medical professionals who were stopped and taken into custody by Israeli soldiers while driving in a convoy carrying patients.
Ashraf al-Qudra, a spokesman for the health ministry, told Al Jazeera that “the World Health Organization has not yet sent us any report to explain the situation including the numbers and names of those detained.”
In a statement, Hamas vehemently condemned the arrests and urged the International Committee of the Red Cross, among other international organizations, to seek Dr. Abu Salmiya and his associates’ immediate release.
How It Began:
The Shin Bet internal security agency had seized Dr. Abu Salmiya for interrogation, and the Israeli military confirmed this on Thursday afternoon. They asserted proof that Al-Shifa Hospital, which was run by him, functioned as a Hamas headquarters.
Israel has maintained that the hospital grounds were being used to house Hamas fighters, while Palestinians have accused Israel of targeting hospitals. The hospital site has been the focus of charges of war crimes on both sides.
Since October 7, 335 assaults against health facilities in the occupied Palestinian territory have been registered by the WHO, with 164 of those attacks occurring in the Gaza Strip and 171 in the West Bank. Numerous deaths, forced mass evacuations, injuries to patients and their companions, and displaced individuals seeking safety in these institutions have all been caused by these assaults.
Over 14,800 deaths have been recorded in Gaza since October 7, while the official number of deaths in Israel from Hamas assaults is approximately 1,200.