Israel releases 55 Palestinians detained from Gaza | ANG
  • July 24, 2024

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Israel released the director of Gaza’s main hospital on Monday, seven months after the military raided the facility over allegations it was being used as a Hamas command center.

The release of Mohammed Abu Selmia without charge or trial raised further questions about Israel’s allegations regarding Shifa Hospital, which its forces have raided on two occasions since the start of its nearly nine-month war with Hamas.

Abu Selmia said he and other prisoners had been tortured and held under harsh conditions, allegations that could not be independently confirmed but matched other accounts of Palestinian detainees who have been released back into Gaza.

“We left behind many detainees, tens of thousands of detainees who have been mistreated, who have been physically and psychologically tortured that no Palestinian prisoner had been subjected to since the 1948 Nakba (catastrophe),” he said.

He said guards broke his finger and caused his head to bleed during beatings, in which they used batons and dogs.

He said the medical staff at different facilities where he was held had also taken part in the abuse “in violation of all laws.”

He said some detainees had limbs amputated because of poor medical care.

Israeli officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment about why he had been released or his allegations of mistreatment.

Prison authorities have previously denied such mistreating detainees.

Two far-right ministers in Israel’s government meanwhile condemned Abu Selmia’s release, saying it had been carried out without their consent.

Israeli forces raided Shifa Hospital in November, alleging that Hamas had created an elaborate command and control center inside the facility.

Abu Selmia and other staff denied the allegations and accused Israel of recklessly endangering thousands of patients and displaced people who were sheltering there.

The military uncovered a tunnel beneath Shifa Hospital leading to a few rooms, as well as other evidence that militants had been present inside the medical center, but the evidence fell short of what it had claimed before the raid.

Abu Selmia was detained on Nov. 22 while escorting a U.N.-led evacuation of patients from the hospital.

He said his detention was “politically motivated,” adding that he had been brought to court at least three times but was never charged or allowed to meet with lawyers.

Israel has since raided several other Gaza hospitals on similar allegations, forcing them to shut down or dramatically reduce services even as tens of thousands have been wounded in Israeli strikes or sickened in the harsh conditions of the war.

The army raided Shifa a second time earlier this year, causing heavy destruction after saying that militants had regrouped there.

Hospitals can lose their protection under international law if combatants use them for military purposes.

Israel launched its offensive after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, in which Palestinian militants killed some 1,200 civilians and took another 250 hostage.

Israeli ground offensives and bombardments have killed more than 37,800 people in Gaza, according to the territory’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count.

Most of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million have fled their homes, with many displaced multiple times.

Israeli restrictions, ongoing fighting and the breakdown of public order have hindered the delivery of humanitarian aid, fueling widespread hunger and sparking fears of famine.

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