Israeli army arrests al-Shifa Hospital director, other doctors in Gaza

The Israeli army has arrested the director of al-Shifa Hospital, the largest medical complex in the Gaza Strip, according to a doctor and media reports.

Muhammad Abu Salmiya was arrested along with several other “senior doctors”, Khalid Abu Samra, a department chief at the hospital, told the AFP news agency on Thursday.

The arrest was also reported by the Israeli Broadcasting Authority, and was confirmed in a post on the social media platform X by Salmiya’s cousin, Adham Abu Selmiya.

“Dr Muhammad Abu Salmiya, the director of al-Shifa medical complex, has been arrested by the Israeli occupation forces. And even earlier, two Palestinian paramedics had been arrested by the Israeli occupation forces,” said Al Jazeera’s Tareq Abu Azzoum, reporting from southern Gaza.

“This gives a clear sign that there is no immunity inside the Gaza Strip, neither for medical workers, civil defence crews or even journalists, as the attacks have reached all classes in the Palestinian community.”

The Israeli army, which raided the hospital last week, has alleged that Hamas fighters used a tunnel complex beneath the facility in Gaza City to stage attacks. Hamas and hospital officials have repeatedly denied the claims.

Indonesian Hospital

Meanwhile on Thursday, Munir al-Bursh, the director-general of Gaza’s Health Ministry, said the Israeli army gave people in the Indonesian Hospital just hours to evacuate the facility in northern Gaza.

He said there are about 200 patients left at the hospital after some 450 patients were evacuated yesterday, and he told Al Jazeera that bombing continues from all sides in the vicinity.

“This hospital is considered to be the main central hospital that is still operating in the north of the Gaza Strip, alongside another two central hospitals,” Al Jazeera’s Abu Azzoum said, adding that there are patients, medical workers and displaced people inside.

“Both hospitals [al-Shifa and the Indonesian hospital] are witnessing a very serious and even critical condition as the Israeli troops are still encircling and even exerting significant control,” our correspondent said.

On Wednesday, the UN’s humanitarian office said the Israeli army “obstructed” a convoy of ambulances transporting 190 wounded and sick patients from al-Shifa Hospital to the south, resulting in the journey taking almost 20 hours.

The lengthy delay at the Israeli military checkpoint dividing north and south Gaza put “the lives of the wounded and sick people in danger”, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS).

The medical service has earlier said that 14 of its ambulances, two UN buses and other vehicles were involved in the evacuation of the patients, as well as “a number of medical teams” from al-Shifa Hospital.

The PRCS said three paramedics and a companion of one of the wounded patients were detained for more than three hours in the cold, while the patients were transferred to hospitals in the south.

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