IDF detains Al-Shifa hospital chief, Qatar says truce timing to be announced in hours

Khalid Abu Samra, a chief of department at the hospital, also told the AFP news agency that "several other senior doctors" were among the detained

The IDF claimed the hospital had been used as a Hamas command centre (photo: National Herald archives)
The IDF claimed the hospital had been used as a Hamas command centre (photo: National Herald archives)
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DW

Israeli troops detained the director of the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza on Thursday, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said on social media.

The IDF claimed that the hospital had been used as a Hamas command centre under the watch of Mohammed Abu Selmia, who has been taken in for interrogation.

"In the hospital, under his management, there was extensive Hamas terrorist activity," it said in a statement.

Shortly before the confirmation of the arrest, IDF spokesperson Peter Lerner told DW that Abu Selmia "should definitely be questioned in order to answer what exactly he knew and what he didn't know."

Hamas — which is categorised as a terror group by the US, the EU, Germany and others — denounced the arrest and called on the International Committee of the Red Cross and other international organisations to push for his release.

"We strongly condemn the arrest of the director of al-Shifa Hospital, Dr Mohammed Abu Selmia, and a number of medical personnel who remained in the hospital to facilitate the evacuation of the remaining patients and wounded there," Hamas said in a statement. 

Khalid Abu Samra, a chief of department at the hospital, also told the AFP news agency that "several other senior doctors" were among those detained.


Meanwhile, Israel's army said its air force struck more than 300 Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip within one day. The targets included "military command centers, underground terror tunnels, weapon storage facilities, weapon manufacturing sites, and anti-tank missile launch posts," the IDF said on social media.

The IDF also continued its ground offensive, with troops "striking terrorists, locating underground sites and striking terror infrastructure in the Gaza Strip," it added.

Israeli forces also located a tunnel shaft inside a mosque in northern Gaza, the IDF said. Hamas, which has been classified as a terror group by the US, EU, Germany and others, operates using a network of tunnels underneath Gaza.

On the other hand, Qatar, which is mediating a possible ceasefire in the ongoing war, says the truce timing will be announced within hours. Qatar was one of the mediators, along with Egypt, to broker the hostage deal between Israel and Hamas. Qatari foreign ministry spokesperson Majid al-Ansari told the state-run Qatari News Agency that finalisation of the deal "continues and is going positively."

"The truce agreement that was reached will be concluded in the coming hours," he said on Thursday. Al-Ansari also said Qatar is working with both sides, as well as with Egypt and the United States, to make sure the pause in fighting begins quickly.

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