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WHO may have unwittingly, knowingly facilitated Israel’s kidnapping of medical staff from Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza: Rights group

25th Nov 2023
WHO may have unwittingly, knowingly facilitated Israel’s kidnapping of medical staff from Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza: Rights group

By Aysu Bicer and Muhammet Ikbal Arslan

LONDON (AA) – Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor expressed concern Friday about reports that suggested the World Health Organization (WHO) may have knowingly or unknowingly played a role in the kidnapping of senior medical staff from the Al-Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip

“We are immensely concerned by reports that WHO may have unwittingly or knowingly facilitated Israel’s kidnapping of senior medical staff from Al-Shifa Hospital. WHO promised staff & patients a safe evacuation to the South coordinated with Israel, IDF stopped the convoy & kidnapped some, ” Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor wrote on X.

“Israeli soldiers stopped the convoy of patients & medical staff for over 7 hours, ill-treated them & arrest some including the director of al-Shifa hospital. This happened after the WHO promised them a safe passage south We call for an immediate investigation into “the incident,” it added.

WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier said at a UN news conference at its Geneva Office that the Israeli army detained Abu Silmiyye, the director of the Al-Shifa Hospital.

“There is no information about his whereabouts at the moment. Do you think it is acceptable to detail a healthcare worker? We will publish a statement on this issue in the coming hours. All the details will be included in the detailed statement,” he said.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza announced that it stopped coordination with WHO for the evacuation of patients and medical teams in hospitals in the Gaza Strip after the Israeli army detained health care workers.

Meanwhile, the WHO said Friday that it does not have information regarding the status of four remaining health care personnel in the Gaza Strip, which includes the director of the Al-Shifa Hospital.

“Three medical personnel from the Palestine Red Crescent Society and three from the Ministry of Health were detained,” WHO said in a statement about the detentions of medical personnel by the Israeli army.

“Two of the six detained health workers have reportedly been released. “We do not have information about the well-being of the four remaining health staff, including the director of Al-Shifa hospital,” said the statement.

The statement urged that their detentions comply with legal and human rights.

It said the mission to evacuate patients at the hospital was “high-risk” due to ongoing intense fighting and shelling in the vicinity of the Al-Shifa hospital.

“It took 20 hours for the team to complete the evacuation, including 6 hours at a checkpoint where the team and patients were screened by the Israeli Defense Force. “This was despite an initial agreement to only screen participants at the origination point in Al-Shifa Hospital,” it said.

Following a six-hour delay at the security checkpoint, the convoy advanced as the health condition of certain patients had already worsened. The patients arrived at their ultimate destination late in the evening, the statement added.

WHO raised concerns about 100 patients and health care workers still at the Al-Shifa Hospital.

The limited time that mission members had within the hospital and the urgency of prioritizing the relocation of the most critical cases made it challenging to precisely determine the exact remaining number, according to the statement.

“This and other evacuations were requested by health authorities, health workers and patients, and became necessary as Al-Shifa Hospital is no longer able to function due to lack of water, fuel, medical supplies, food, and staff, and recent military incursions ,” it said.

It added that WHO and its collaborators conducted a mission Nov. 21 to evaluate medical priorities at the Al Ahli Hospital in northern Gaza

“Al-Ahli, which is one of the only functional hospitals in the north, must be urgently and regularly supplied with fuel, water, food and medical supplies to ensure the continuity of care,” it said.

The statement said that following the assessment mission, a transfer operation was carried out in collaboration with the Palestine Red Crescent Society, resulting in the arrival of 22 patients and 19 companions at the European Gaza Hospital on the subsequent day.

Israeli has killed 14,532 Palestinians, including over 6,000 children and 4,000 women, the media office in the besieged enclave said.

The Israeli death toll, meanwhile, is around 1,200, according to Israeli official figures.

[Photo: Palestinian mother and her baby, injured when Israeli army shot Palestinians trying to return to northern Gaza from south after Humanitarian pause took effect, treateda Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah, Gaza 24 11 23. Photojournalist: Ali Jadallah /AA]

 

 

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

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