(CTN News) – According to an AFP report, Israeli forces arrested the director of Al-Shifa, Gaza’s largest hospital, along with other medical staff on Thursday.
Mohammad Abu Salmiya, the director, has been a prominent figure in international media coverage of the hospital’s conditions, which have been heavily impacted by the recent Israeli ground offensive in response to Hamas attacks. The Israeli army has claimed that Hamas fighters utilized a tunnel network beneath the hospital to launch attacks, prompting the raid on the facility.
The allegations have been refuted multiple times by Hamas and hospital authorities. According to Khalid Abu Samra, a department head at the hospital, Gaza Doctor Mohammad Abu Salmiya was apprehended alongside other senior doctors.
An official from the health ministry informed AFP that the hospital director, two nurses, and another doctor were also taken into custody. Hamas released a statement condemning the arrests and urging the International Committee of the Red Cross and other international organizations to secure the prompt release of Salmiya and his colleagues.
The hospital received instructions to evacuate on Saturday, leading to the departure of numerous patients and their relocation towards the supposedly safer southern region of the Palestinian territory.
According to Salmiya, he informed Gaza AFP last week that he had received the evacuation order from Israeli forces after declining a previous one.
However, the Israeli army stated that the evacuations were conducted upon the “request” of Salmiya.
The military released an audio recording, presented as a conversation between Salmiya and a senior Israeli officer, in which both individuals accuse each other of the evacuation.
The PRCS and UN have evacuated 190 injured individuals from Al-Shifa to hospitals in southern Gaza. The process took 20 hours due to delays at the checkpoint. Three paramedics were initially detained but two were released. Israeli soldiers claimed a tunnel network at the hospital, but Hamas and medical personnel deny it.
Gaza Al-Shifa has been targeted by Israeli special forces in their campaign against militants. The Hamas-led government reports over 14,000 deaths, mostly women and children. This operation followed a Hamas attack on October 7, resulting in 1,200 deaths and 240 hostages.