Top Gaza surgeon tortured and killed in Israeli prison
05/10/2024 // Cassie B. // Views

A prominent Palestinian surgeon was detained by Israeli soldiers and tortured to death while in custody, according to a statement made by the Palestinian Prisoner Society.

The 50-year-old surgeon, Dr. Adnan al-Bursh, who also served as an orthopedic medicine professor, died in an Israeli-controlled prison in the occupied West Bank last month in what has been described as a “deliberate assassination.”

A fellow prisoner who has since been released reported that the doctor was tortured and killed. Although this particular claim has not been independently verified yet, dozens of Palestinians who were detained by Israeli soldiers report widespread psychological and physical abuse despite claims by the IDF that it treats all of its detainees in line with international law.

He had been arrested in December and is believed to have been wounded by an Israeli bombardment around the same time at Indonesian Hospital in Gaza. Prior to his arrest, he had been working at a range of hospitals in the Gaza Strip helping patients. Other medical staff members and patients were arrested at the same time as Dr. Adnan.

The director of Al-Shifa Hospital, where Dr. Adnan served as the head of orthopedics, said his passing was “heartbreaking news for everyone, for his family, the medical staff at Al-Shifa Hospital, and for Dr. Adnan’s patients.”

Dr. Marwan Abu Saada added: “This is the last thing we expected, and it’s difficult for the human soul to bear this news. Dr. Adnan loved life, was cheerful and was loved by everyone.”

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Dr. Adnan also served as a sports adviser for the Palestinian national team. Family members say he worked nonstop during the war trying to save people. During the first incursion by Israeli soldiers into Al-Shifa Hospital, medical staff were instructed to leave the facility and head south or face arrest. While Dr. Adnan initially followed those orders and headed south, he returned to the north once the roads seemed safe enough, moving from hospital to hospital to help patients.

Prisoner associations have said that Dr. Adnan's death is part of a “systematic targeting process against physicians and the health care system in Gaza.”

Another detainee, 33-year-old Ismail Abdul Bari Khader, also died while he was in custody.

WHO demands Israel stop attacking healthcare workers

The World Health Organization has long been demanding that Israel stop attacking healthcare workers in the Gaza Strip. According to the Palestinian health ministry, around 500 medical sector workers have been killed by Israel since the war broke out following an attack in southern Israel by Hamas terrorists on October 7. A further 1500 medical sector workers have been wounded, while Israel has arrested more than 300 of them.

Israel recently released dozens of Palestinian prisoners from a number of its jails as the initial six months of renewable administrative detention came to a close for many of them in April. Many of these individuals were arrested at the start of the war. So far, it is believed that at least 18 Palestinian prisoners died while in custody.

Assessments of the released prisoners indicate that they are being subject to a severe level of abuse in Israel’s jails. Some of the abuses that have been documented by rights groups include detainees being forced to act like animals, children being attacked by dogs and prisoners being urinated on. This is according to a report that was released by the United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees. A different report that has yet to be published and was compiled by the United Nations describes abuses such as sleep deprivation, beatings, sexual abuse and the threat of sexual violence against male and female detainees by the Israeli military.

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