Release of Gaza hospital director sparks outrage in Israel

The raid turned Al-Shifa into a symbol of war, and many Gazans saw Israel’s attacks on medical facilities as a sign of contempt for Palestinian life. The imprisonment of Dr. Abu Salmiya reinforced that view. For Israelis, the hospital was an example of Hamas’ exploitation of civilian infrastructure for military purposes.

The Israeli military later released some evidence to support its claim that Hamas operated out of the Shifa compound, including showing reporters a fortified tunnel built beneath the compound. An investigation by The New York Times suggested that Hamas had used the site as cover and stored weapons there. However, the Israeli military has struggled to substantiate its claim that Hamas had a command and control center beneath the facility.

The release of Dr. Abu Salmiya raised eyebrows among Israeli ministers and lawmakers already at odds over Mr. Netanyahu’s handling of the war. Benny Gantz, a former senior member of Mr. Netanyahu’s war cabinet who left the government last month, called the decision a “moral and ethical operational error” and accused the prime minister of releasing Dr. Abu Salmiya to free “space and budget” for other Palestinian prisoners.

The Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence agency, said in a statement that the government had failed to meet demands for additional space in detention centers to allow for the arrest of more “terrorists in Israel and the Gaza Strip.” As a result, the Shin Bet and the military were required to release a certain number of prisoners who posed “a lesser threat” from Gaza in order to “clear places of detention,” the agency said.

After the initial raid on Al-Shifa in November, Israeli forces withdrew from the area. But in late March, after the army said remnants of Hamas’s military wing had regrouped there, Israeli forces returned to the hospital, sparking two weeks of fighting in which they said they killed about 200 Palestinians and arrested hundreds more.

The fighting has severely damaged many of the hospital’s main buildings. According to a doctor on the scene and a spokesman for the Palestinian Civil Defense, bodies were scattered in and around the complex.

The Gaza Ministry of Health said in a statement Monday that Dr. Abu Salmiya had been released along with Dr. Issam Abu Ajwa, a surgeon with Al-Shifa. The statement called for the release of all other detained Gaza medical workers who “were arrested and mistreated solely for treating the sick and wounded.”

The Health Ministry said on Sunday that at least 310 medical workers in Gaza have been detained by Israeli forces since the war began. The ministry did not specify how many have been released.

Abu Bakr Bashir contributed to the reporting from London, Myra Nieuwenhuis from Jerusalem and Gabby Sobelman from Rehovot, Israel.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button