Israel arrests Shifa hospital director, fully evacuate the 'Indonesian'

AFP , AP , Ahram Online , Thursday 23 Nov 2023

Al-Shifa hopsital's director, Mohammed Abu Selmia, has been arrested by Israeli soldiers, according to media reports.

Palestinians gather outside one of the departments inside the Al-Shifa hospital complex in Gaza City in the northern Gaza Strip, amid continuing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, on November 22, 2023. AFP


A doctor at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City told AFP that the facility's director and several other medical personnel were arrested by Israeli forces on Thursday.

"Doctor Mohammad Abu Salmiya was arrested along with several other senior doctors," Khalid Abu Samra, chief of a department at the hospital told AFP.

On November 18, Abu Salamiya told AFP that he received an Israeli order to evacuate the hospital after he had rejected a previous similar order.

After turning it into a military target and surrounding it with tanks for several days, the Israeli army stormed Al-Shifa last week.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian charity Medical Rescue Committee (MER-C), which funded the Indonesian Hospital in Gaza when it was built in 2011, said the hospital has been completely evacuated and its volunteers moved to Rafah, Al-Jazeera reported.

Earlier, the director general of Gaza’s Health Ministry, who was inside the hospital, said the Israeli army warned people in the facility to evacuate it in four hours.

“The Indonesian Hospital is now empty, and our volunteers have been moved to a school near the European Hospital. Our volunteers are sheltering at the school with thousands of others”.

The Israeli occupation army on Wednesday unveiled what it claimed was a Hamas facility under Gaza's largest hospital, showing what appeared to be a subterranean dormitory to a group of foreign journalists who were given a rare glimpse inside the besieged strip, according to an AP report.

Dozens of soldiers escorted journalists through a narrow stone tunnel — which the army said stretched 150 meters (164 yards) — to a series of underground bunkers beneath Shifa Hospital in a shattered Gaza City.

These bunkers were actually built by Israel in the 80's.

Former prime minister Ehud Barak told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that Israel helped build some of the underground spaces beneath Gaza’s Shifa Hospital.

The living quarters, located at the end of the tunnel, had an air conditioner, kitchen, bathroom and pair of metal cots in a room fashioned from rusty white tile. They appeared to be out of use.

Since the war erupted, Israel has repeatedly accused Hamas of using Gaza's hospitals as cover for military use. It has paid special attention to Shifa, claiming that Hamas has hidden command centres and bunkers underneath the hospital's sprawling grounds.

Israel has been under pressure to provide evidence for such allegations, which Hamas and the hospital administration have denied.

Although the trip was tightly controlled by the Israeli army, journalists could still catch glimpses of life in Gaza. From outside the hospital gates, at least a couple dozen exhausted Palestinians could be seen gathering their belongings, apparently ahead of an evacuation.

Hundreds of patients and doctors remain stranded at the besieged hospital. Thousands more who had been sheltering in its courtyard fled south last week as Israeli tanks drew close and fighting raged.

At one point, several Palestinians leaning out of a window at Shifa locked eyes with journalists. One man gave a thumbs-up. Others started to yell. Israeli soldiers shepherded the journalists away.

What remained on Gaza City's ghostly streets were the ruins of collapsed buildings, spewing rubble onto the streets. The facade of one abandoned building had been blown off, revealing furnished living rooms, glassware in cabinets somehow intact, and mirrors still mounted on walls. Fortified bulldozers clawed through sand and gravel to clear the way for more tanks.

The city's coastal promenade that once bustled with cafes and coffee shops was gone. Instead, there was rubble and a single lifeguard hut. A recent bombing sent black plumes rising into the sky. Gunbattles could be heard rattling in the distance.

In the midst of the devastation, a line of Palestinian evacuees could be seen carrying their bags and other belongings.

As the journalists in the Israeli army convoy passed by, they held their ID cards up to the armoured personnel carriers. Some of them waved white flags.


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