Israeli Forces Detain Palestinian Doctor During Hospital Raid, Torture Him Over 45 Days

Doctor Said Abdulrahman Maarouf

One of the ways democracy defends itself and its values is by kidnapping and torturing random people.


A Palestinian doctor says Israeli forces in Gaza detained him when they overran a hospital and subjected him to abuse during 45 days of captivity including sleep deprivation and constant shackling and blindfolding before releasing him last week.

Doctor Said Abdulrahman Maarouf was working at al-Ahli al-Arab hospital in Gaza City when it was surrounded by Israeli forces in December.

Maarouf held back tears as he described his last phone conversation with his daughter as the Israeli soldiers called on loudspeakers for all doctors and medical staff to leave the hospital building.

She had been in the family home in Gaza City, one of his five children who were all there with his wife and 15 to 20 other relatives.

Dad the bombing has reached us. What do we do?” she said to him. He replied that if he told her to stay and they were killed, or if he told her to leave and they were killed it would be torture for him.

“If you want to leave then leave. If you want to stay then stay. I’m in the same trench with you and I’m going now to the Israeli soldiers without knowing my fate,” he remembered telling her.

From that moment until today I have no information about my children or my wife,” he said, crying.

The devastation in Gaza has scattered families and cut off communications, making it hard for people to reach many areas physically and unable to contact each other by phone, with most telecom networks down.

Maarouf believes he was one of more than 100 prisoners being held in the same place. “Each one of us was wishing for death… wishing to die from the severity of the suffering,” he said.

He said being told to try to sleep lying on pebbles was the worst part of his experience.

I am a paediatrician working for 23 years in this field. I did not commit any humanitarian crime. My weapon is my pen, my notebook and my stethoscope. I didn’t leave the place. I was treating children inside hospitals,” he said.

“When we were called to where the tanks were I thought we’d be there a few hours and leave. I thought if they took me and my colleagues they would treat us well because we are doctors and did not commit any crime,” he said.

Back in Gaza, he is working again in a children’s ward, a stethoscope around his neck, the sound of crying infants and the concerned whispers of parents around him once more.

Americans should be reminded all the time: this is only possible because your government allows it.