Al-Shifa hospital director freed after 7 months of detention and torture

Upon his release, the Al-Shifa director recounted the atrocities committed by the Israeli occupation against him and other Palestinian prisoners, sparking the outrage of Israeli officials, who described his release as a “serious mistake”

July 03, 2024 by Aseel Saleh
Director of Al-Shifa hospital Dr. Mohammed Abu Salmiya after his release. Photo: X

Dr. Mohammed Abu Salmiya, the director of Gaza’s largest hospital, Al-Shifa, was released on Monday, July 1, along with dozens of Palestinians, including medical staff and patients.

In November 2023, Dr. Abu Salmiya was detained at an Israeli checkpoint while traveling in a United Nations’ ambulance convoy, which was evacuating patients from Al-Shifa Hospital to southern Gaza, according to Gaza’s health ministry and the Palestine Red Crescent Society.

During his seven-month detention without charge or trial, Abu Salmiya experienced severe mistreatment, torture, deprivation of basic rights, adequate medical care and food. All prisoners were subjected to the same mistreatment and abuse, Dr. Abu Salmiya said in his testimony to media outlets.

“We have left the prisoners in a very difficult situation. What the prisoners are going through now has not happened in the history of the prisoner movement.”

The release of Dr. Abu Salmiya sparked the anger of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and other Israeli officials, who branded the release of the prisoners as security negligence, a serious mistake, and a moral failure.

Claiming that he was not informed of the planned release, Netanyahu ordered the Israeli domestic intelligence agency, Shin Bet, to investigate the matter.

In turn, Shin Beit cited the lack of space in Israeli prisons as a justification for releasing dozens of Gazan prisoners, including Dr. Abu Salmiya.

Dr. Abu Salmiya’s testimony about the inhumane conditions that the Palestinian prisoners suffer in Israeli jails, confirms the account of Palestinian lawyer Khaled Mahajneh on what he witnessed during his visit in the notorious Sde Teiman desert detention camp run by the Israeli military around one week ago.

“The treatment is more horrifying than anything we have heard about Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo,” Mahajneh said in his first-hand account of the conditions faced in the detention camp after being granted a visit.

Mahajneh’s testimony was not the first regarding the horrific situation in the Sde Teiman detention camp. In May 2024, CNN published a report based on the testimonies of three Israeli whistleblowers, who worked in Sde Teiman, about the torture and mistreatment that Gazan prisoners were subjected to by Israeli occupation forces. According to the whistleblowers, prisoners from Gaza are placed under extreme physical restraint during all moments of their detention. A field hospital within the detention center holds wounded detainees who are strapped to their beds, forced to wear diapers, and fed through straws.

“They stripped them down of anything that resembles human beings,” one of the whistleblowers told CNN, who worked as a medic at Sde Teiman’s field hospital.

The released prisoners are living testimony to the atrocities being committed by Israeli occupation forces not only through its widespread genocidal bombing of the Gaza strip, but also through the brutalizing of Palestinians and Palestinian civil society through mass detention and torture of thousands.