Point-blank: Targeting doctors

Mohamed Salmawy
Tuesday 11 Jun 2024

At first it seemed that Israel’s targeting of Palestinian civilians is random, that it strikes all sectors and categories of the population in Gaza indiscriminately.


Now, a recent investigative report in The Intercept reveals that there is a method at work and that Israeli occupation forces (IOF) set their crosshairs on certain groups more than others. Foremost among these are doctors and other medical workers who are struggling to save the lives of the victims of Israel’s unrelenting savagery.

Hamouda, a paramedic, relates how, after having been forced to leave the Indonesian Hospital he transferred to the Kamal Adwan Hospital, only for the IOF to issue evacuation orders ten days later. The hospital administration was informed that patients and staff would be able to relocate to another hospital safely. But upon leaving the premises, the IOF ordered all the males to show their identity cards and strip off their clothes. All persons who were determined to be doctors were handcuffed, blindfolded, and taken to an unknown location. According to another victim of such treatment, who was released after six months in a secret Israeli prison in the Negev, the Israelis singled out the Palestinian doctors for harsher torture than they inflicted on the other prisoners.

Recounting their ordeal, recently released detainees said that their torturers had tried to force them into making confessions that Hamas used the hospitals they worked in as military headquarters. That oft-cited Israeli allegation has never been substantiated by concrete evidence and has been repeatedly denied by the foreign doctors and nurses affiliated with international medical organisations working in Gaza or who had volunteered to help in the besieged and overstretched medical facilities. Many of the imprisoned health workers died while in detention. While the Israeli authorities notified their relatives of the deaths, they refused to hand over the bodies of the deceased to conceal the visible signs of abuse.

Osaid Alser, a Palestinian surgical resident in the US, relates that he had been in constant contact with his cousin, the surgeon Khaled Alser who kept his US relative posted about the conditions at Nasser Hospital where he worked. As Dr. Osaid told The Intercept in an interview, his cousin would regularly share pictures documenting the horrifying injuries sustained by the patients. Unfortunately, after the IOF attack on Nasser Hospital where Dr. Alser worked, the communications suddenly ceased and Dr. Osaid has not heard from his cousin since.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 13 June, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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