Israel Releases Al Shifa Hospital Director and 49 Gazan Detainees

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Several Palestinian medical staff members died during detention due to torture and denial of basic medical care.

On Monday, about 50 Palestinian prisoners arrested during the Israeli offensive were released, including Mohammed Abu Selmia, the director of Gaza’s largest hospital.

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The prisoners were released from various Israeli facilities, including the Sde Teiman military detention camp, where many Palestinians arrested during the offensive were held. The release was part of an effort to reduce the number of detainees in Sde Teiman, which is running out of space.

Mohammed Abu Selmia, head of the Al Shifa Hospital, was among those released. He was detained by the Israeli occupation forces in November 2023 while traveling south from Gaza City following an Israeli military raid on the hospital.

In video footage on social networks, Abu Selmia is seen near a Red Crescent vehicle and being warmly welcomed upon his arrival in Gaza. “The prisoners are enduring very difficult conditions, including a lack of food and water and physical humiliation,” he said, denouncing that several Palestinian medical staff members died during detention due to torture and denial of basic medical care.

More on the release of Mohammed Abu Selmia, the Al-Shifa hospital who was detained in November when Israeli forces raided the facility ⬇https://t.co/GhVaj61gUp

— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) July 1, 2024

Israel conducted raids on the Al Shifa hospital twice, in November 2023 and April, claiming that the hospital had served as the headquarters of Hamas. The raids drew widespread criticism from the international community.

Abu Selmia’s release has sparked an uproar in Israel. Internal Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, a far-right leader in charge of prisons, castigated the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, for approving the release and called for the dismissal of the Shin Bet chief.

“The news this morning and the chaos in the government… is a direct continuation of the recklessness and dysfunction of the Israeli government, which is causing damage to the security of Israel’s citizens,” said opposition leader Yair Lapid, who also criticized the government over the release of Abu Selmia.

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement, saying that the prisoners’ release followed an ongoing Supreme Court hearing in which human rights groups are challenging the harsh incarceration conditions.

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