Palestinian doctor Said Abdulrahman Maarouf says he was tortured by Israeli forces during his nearly seven weeks of detention after his arrest in Gaza. He experienced real terror that he will never forget. Maarouf, a pediatrician at al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City, told Al Jazeera that he was blindfolded, his hands were cuffed and his legs were shackled.
He said he was told to sleep in places covered with pebbles without a mattress, pillow or cover and with loud music. The Israelis were brutal, and they did not choose the way in which they would mistreat this pediatrician.
"The torture was very severe in Israeli prison. I am a doctor. My weight was 87 kilograms. I lost, in 45 days, more than 25 kilograms. I lost my balance. I lost focus. I lost all feeling. However you describe the suffering and the insults in prison you can never know the reality unless you lived through it," he said, as quoted by reuters.com
Maarouf said he had no idea where he was detained because he was blindfolded throughout the detention. He felt enormous fear in those moments and uncertainty. He feared for his life and the lives of his loved ones.
This pediatrician was not sure if he was being held inside or outside Gaza. He confirmed that he was thrown out at the Kerem Shalom crossing and was picked up by the Red Cross. He has never committed a crime in his life, he confirmed that. Maarouf has always fought for justice and strived as a doctor to help every patient. However, he had to experience real horror.
"I am a pediatrician 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.
During his imprisonment, his primary thought was his family. Namely, during his arrest, Gaza was bombed. He still does not know if his family is safe, and if they managed to survive the attacks.
Maarouf seems to have lost faith in humanity after all.
Maarouf had a difficult time describing the attacks by the Israelis and the moment when he spoke to his daughter for the last time through a phone call. The Israelis asked the Palestinians to leave the hospital and go outside through megaphones.
His daughter and the rest of the family were in Gaza at the time.
"Dad, the bombing has reached us. What should we do?" - his daughter said.
At that moment, he didn't know how to react, considering that if they stayed or left, it could end tragically. Maarouf said they do what they want, given the fear of making the wrong decision.
"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," Maarouf said.
This pediatrician still doesn't know the fate of his family, and that especially bothers him. The question is whether they are in captivity or something else happened. Let's hope things turn out positive.
"From that moment until today, I have no information about my children or my wife," he said.
The Israeli army said it treats prisoners in accordance with international law and that according to its protocols it treats them with dignity.
Hamas regains control over parts of northern Gaza
The Palestinian Civil Authority has come back to areas from which Israeli forces withdrew a month ago. Police officers are now in Gaza City, and some civil servants are receiving their salaries.
Residents noticed police near government buildings and Shifa Hospital.
A Hamas official, speaking without revealing their identity, mentioned that bringing back the police aims to restore order, especially in the north where Israeli soldiers had left. This includes preventing looting in empty areas. Despite previous Israeli claims of stopping Hamas in the north, rockets were launched shortly after Israel withdrew on January 16.
Palestinians hope that the future could become brighter for them. Being under attack for a very long time is a terrible thing and an inhumane act. It is to be hoped that the countries of the world can prevent further killings and crimes in Palestine.
Hamas is trying in every way to strengthen and resist its opponents. A difficult situation certainly awaits us in the future. The worst thing is that there are more and more civilian victims.
Lately, more and more details are coming out about the war in Palestine, which are really painful to hear and after all, one has to ask oneself the question: Where is the human race going?