Israeli forces detain hospital director in Gaza

Dr Ahmed Al Kahlout was apprehended after he said the Israeli army was forcing sick and displaced Palestinians to leave hospital

Palestinian medics treat a wounded man at Kamal Adwan Hospital in Beit Lahia after an Israeli strike in November. AFP
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Israeli forces have detained the director of Kamal Adwan Hospital in the north of the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said.

Dr Ahmed Al Kahlout was apprehended after the army detained more than 70 members of staff at the hospital, the Ministry said on Tuesday evening.

The arrest took place hours after Dr Al Kahlout told The National that the Israeli army was forcing sick and displaced Palestinians to leave the hospital during raids on the complex.

“The army has us surrounded and have begun to enter the premises. They are forcing people to leave,” Dr Al Kahlout said on Tuesday as an Israeli raid took place.

Dr Al Kahlout and other members of the medical staff were taken to an unknown location after being detained.

Five doctors and women from the medical team were released by Israeli forces, who asked the remaining staff members to gather all patients and staff in one building and evacuate the rest of the complex.

There were 65 wounded and 12 sick children in the hospital’s paediatric care unit, which has no electricity, water or food supplies.

Kamal Adwan Hospital, where thousands of displaced people are located, has been under continuous siege and shelling by the Israeli army for days.

The hospital, the only remaining government hospital operating in northern Gaza, was out of service on Thursday last week.

In the south of Gaza, Al Nasser hospital is running dangerously low on blood as it receives more casualties than it can handle, laboratory worker Arafat Al Attal told The National.

"We receive more than 50 people every day who need blood transfusions," said Mr Al Attal, who has co-ordinated a blood donation campaign.

Hospital chiefs have urged people to donate blood "of all types", he said.

But the quality of the blood donated is deteriorating as people suffer food shortages, he said.

"We have asked the mosques to make calls for donation through their speakerphones inviting people to come and donate," said Mr Attal.

"Recently, we have been facing problems in the donation process because people now suffer from malnutrition. They can't eat or drink well, so their body is tired."

The number of donors remains far lower than the required amount.

Saeed Shamalkh, a resident of Khan Younis, answered the call for donations made by Al Nasser hospital staff.

"I feel that my national duty obligates me to come and donate to help my country," he told The National.

"They need our blood, and what we offer is not enough because the number of injuries is huge, and they need a lot of units of blood."

Israeli shelling continued in areas in Khan Younis south and Dier Al Balah in the middle of the Gaza Strip, witnesses told The National.

The Israeli army named eight soldiers who were killed in fighting in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday when several others were injured.

The wounded have been taken for medical treatment and their families informed, the army said.

More than 18,400 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since fighting began on October 7, when Hamas killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took about 240 hostages in southern Israel.

About two thirds of those killed in Gaza were women and children, the Health Ministry said. About 90 per cent of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been displaced.

On Tuesday, videos and photos emerged showing Israeli soldiers destroying property, dancing and chanting anti-Palestine songs in Gaza.

The videos show Israeli soldiers in homes, destroying plastic figures in a toy shop and attempting to burn food and water supplies in an abandoned lorry.

The Israeli army has pledged to take disciplinary action in what it says are a handful of isolated cases.

Critics say the videos reflect a national mood that is highly supportive of the war in Gaza, with little empathy for the plight of Gaza's civilians.

“The dehumanisation from the top is very much sinking down to the soldiers,” Dror Sadot, a spokeswoman for the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, told AP.

Updated: December 13, 2023, 11:57 AM