Gaza doctor dies in Israeli jail; prison says he was detained for national security reasons

Dr. Adnan Al-Bursh. (Courtesy)
Dr. Adnan Al-Bursh. (Courtesy)

A senior Palestinian doctor died in an Israeli prison after more than four months of detention, two Palestinian prisoner associations say, blaming Israel for his death.

The associations say in a joint statement that Adnan Al-Bursh, head of orthopedics at Al Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest medical facility, had been detained by Israeli forces while temporarily working at Al-Awada Hospital in north Gaza.

They called his death an “assassination” and said his body remained in Israeli custody.

An Israeli military spokesperson said that the prison service had declared Bursh dead on April 19, saying that he had been detained for national security reasons in Ofer prison. The spokesperson did not comment on the cause of death.

Medical groups, including the World Health Organization, have repeatedly called for a halt to attacks on Gaza healthcare workers, with more than 200 killed so far in the Gaza conflict, according to an estimate from Insecurity Insight, a research group that collects and analyses data on attacks on aid workers around the world.

The Palestinian health ministry said in a statement that Bursh’s death raised to 496 the number of medical sector workers who had been killed by Israel since October 7. It added that 1,500 others had been wounded, while 309 had been arrested. Those figures haven’t been verified

Israel accuses Hamas of using hospitals for military purposes and says its operations against them have been justified by the presence of fighters.

Earlier today, the Israeli authorities released 64 Palestinians they had detained during their military offensive in Gaza via the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom Crossing, the Palestinian borders and crossings agency said.

One of them was the body of another man who had died in detention, the prisoners’ associations says.

Another freed detainee arrived in critical condition and was transferred to a hospital upon arrival, the crossings agency adds.

Dozens of Palestinians who had been freed by Israel in past months including some staff of a UN agency have reported ill-treatment during detention, including torture and deprivation of food and sleep. Israel says it adheres to international law regarding the treatment of prisoners.

The two new deaths bring the toll of Gazans who died in Israeli custody to at least 18 since the start of the war, the prisoners associations says, urging Israeli authorities to disclose the number, location and fate of detainees from Gaza.

UNRWA has documented the release of 1,506 people detained by the Israeli authorities through the Kerem Shalom Crossing as of April 4 and said the transfer of detainees regularly holds up aid. The 1,506 figure included 43 children and 84 women, it said.

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