MEE: Israel Uses Doctors as Human Shields at Al-Syifa Hospital

Illustration: activities at the Indonesian Hospital in North Gaza before it was invaded by Israeli troops. (Photo: MER-C)

Gaza, MINA – Palestinian doctors in the Gaza Strip said in a report that they were detained, interrogated and used as “human shields” during Israel’s violent attacks on hospitals and medical facilities in the blockaded territory.

Several doctors and surgeons were quoted in a report by the UK-based Middle East Eye (MEE) news site on Friday that the occupying regime forces used them as “hostages”, when troops stormed al-Syifa Hospital in Israel’s weeks-long siege and bombing of the largest hospital complex in Gaza.

Doctors said Israeli forces detained Mohammed Abu Silmiya, head of al-Syifa Hospital, along with more than 20 other medical personnel from Gaza.

Silmiya was reportedly detained and questioned twice by Israeli officers inside al-Syifa Hospital.

Marwan Abu Saada, Head of the Department of Surgery at al-Syifa Hospital, said, “For several days, Israeli aircraft continued to bomb various buildings and departments of the hospital. The quadcopter fired directly at people, including patients and refugees. Many people were killed inside the hospital.”

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“They surrounded the hospital for five days before storming its departments. They detained us [in certain areas] and threatened us [with being targeted]. When they raided the warehouse on land, they used us [doctors] as human shields to enter and search. They found a technical maintenance employee there and questioned him, before they were taken into custody.

He added that Israeli forces took several doctors with them as they moved from one department to another and searched various offices and rooms at al-Syifa Hospital.

“We felt that we were hostages, used to [protect] the Israeli army. They took me and Dr. Abu Silmiya and interrogated us. They did not use violence against me or Dr. Abu Silmiya. But they interrogated Dr. Abu Silmiya twice,” continued Abu Saada.

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The doctor said Israeli troops asked him and Abu Silmiya about the presence of members of the Hamas resistance movement or hostages at the hospital office or whether there was any Hamas activity in al-Syifa.

“We said no, because we had never seen Hamas members there. They surrounded us in the hospital for five days, and on the eve of the ceasefire, I returned home, and the patients and several members of the medical staff were evacuated to the south,” Abu Saada said.

Fadel Naim, a doctor who witnessed the Israeli attack, was quoted by Middle East Eye as saying that Israeli forces interrogated the doctors to obtain information about Palestinian resistance groups.

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“Many doctors and health professionals have been questioned and detained,” Naim said. “Any Palestinian can be detained, but they detain doctors mainly because they think that they will get information that could prove their accusations of resistance. They interrogated the doctor to get information and details about other people.”

Naim added that since the start of the Israeli attack on Gaza, he had witnessed or heard of many doctors being killed or injured.

“Many of our colleagues were immediately killed. Every day we hear the name of another doctor who was killed. “Many doctors who had been our students were also killed or detained,” he said. (T/RE1/P2)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)