Palestinian and international networks demand Israel release hospital director Dr. Ahmed Muhanna

Al Awda Association and the People’s Health Movement launched a campaign for the release of Dr. Ahmed Muhanna, director of Al-Awda Hospital in northern Gaza

December 19, 2023 by Peoples Health Dispatch
Dr. Ahmed Muhanna appeared on numerous international news stations calling for an end to Israel's attacks on health workers. Photo: Screenshot

Al Awda Health and Community Association and the People’s Health Movement (PHM) have launched a campaign calling for the release of Dr. Ahmed Muhanna, the director of Al Awda’s hospital in the area of Tal Al-Zaatar in Jabalya, northern Gaza. PHM has also called for an end to Israeli attacks on health workers in Palestine, warning that the “deliberate targeting of the healthcare system by Israel is a blatant war crime.”

Dr. Muhanna was detained by Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) following a raid on Al-Awda Hospital in Jabalya that began on December 17. While other staff members were detained by Israeli soldiers, they were released after several hours of questioning. On the other hand, Dr. Muhanna was not released, and his current status remains unknown.

The director of Al-Awda Hospital in Jabalya became an unofficial spokesperson for health workers in Palestine since Israel started its latest round of attacks on October 7. From the very beginning of the Israeli war on Gaza, Dr. Muhanna kept contact with regional and international organizations, sharing situation reports to illustrate the dire state of hospitals in the Gaza Strip.

Read more: World faces days of “moral decay” as Israel bulldozes hospital grounds, detains more doctors

Along with other members of the staff, Dr. Muhanna was also one of the health workers who refused to abandon the hospital after receiving evacuation orders from the Israeli occupation in the earlier phases of the war. At the time, Dr. Muhanna said the evacuation “is not possible,” given the serious conditions of several patients. “The hospital staff is determined to stay and provide health care to patients,” he asserted at the time.

Shortly before his arrest, Dr. Muhanna sent a new message to Al Awda’s network of contacts, saying: “No one can move in the hospital because of the [Israeli] sniper. The situation in the hospital is terrible. We have 38 patients, some of them lacking medicine. We have no oxygen and only very little fuel for a small generator. We have food for 2 to 3 days tops. The situation is critical.”

Al Awda Association and PHM have called on health workers and activists around the world to denounce Dr. Muhanna’s arrest and apply pressure on their governments to push Israeli authorities to free him. The organizations are also inviting health workers to organize actions in support of Dr. Muhanna and his comrades in the Gaza Strip, making their struggle visible in their workplaces.

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