Israeli Doctor Blows Whistle on War Crimes

An anonymous physician, in a letter viewed by Haaretz, has warned Israeli officials about what’s going on at a field hospital inside a notorious detention center. 

IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv. (Justin LaBerge, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

By Brett Wilkins
Common Dreams

A doctor at an Israeli field hospital inside a notorious detention center where hundreds of Palestinian prisoners are temporarily held is sounding the alarm about torture and horrific conditions at what some human rights defenders — including Israelis — are calling “Israel’s Guantánamo Bay” and even a “concentration camp.”

In a letter to Israel’s attorney general and defense and health ministers viewed by Haaretz — which reported the story Thursday — the anonymous physician describes likely war crimes being committed at the Israel Defense Force’s Sde Teiman base near Beersheva. 

Palestinian militants captured by IDF troops, as well as many civilian hostages ranging in age from teenagers to septuagenarians, are held there in cages, 70-100 per cage, until they are transferred to regular Israeli prisons or released.

“From the first days of the medical facility’s operation until today, I have faced serious ethical dilemmas,” the doctor wrote. “More than that, I am writing to warn you that the facility’s operations do not comply with a single section among those dealing with health in the Internment of Unlawful Combatants Law.”

Gazans arrested and detained by Israeli forces are not legally considered prisoners of war by Israel because it does not recognize Gaza as a state. 

Israeli destruction of the Gaza Strip, Oct. 17, 2023. (Fars Media Corporation, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 4.0)

These detainees are mostly held under the Internment of Unlawful Combatants Law, which allows the imprisonment of anyone suspected of taking part in hostilities against Israel for up to 75 days without seeing a judge.

Human Rights Watch has warned that the law “strips away meaningful judicial review and due process rights.”

Sde Teiman detainees are fed through straws and forced to defecate in diapers. They’re also forced to sleep with the lights on and have allegedly been subjected to beatings and torture. 

Other Palestinians taken by Israeli forces have described being electrocuted, mauled by dogs, soaked with cold water, denied food and water, deprived of sleep and blasted with loud music at temporary detention sites. 

The whistleblowing Sde Teiman physician said that all patients at the camp’s field hospital are handcuffed by all four limbs, regardless of how dangerous they are deemed. 

In December, Israeli Health Ministry officials ordered such treatment after a medical worker at the facility was attacked. Now the camp’s estimated 600-800 prisoners are shackled 24 hours a day.

At first, the cuffs were plastic zip ties. Now they’re metal. The doctor said that more than half of his patients at the camp have suffered cuffing injuries, including some that have required “repeated surgical interventions.” 

“Just this week, two prisoners had their legs amputated due to handcuff injuries, which unfortunately is a routine event,” he told Haaretz.

The whistleblower also alleged substandard medical care at the facility, where there is only one doctor on duty, who is sometimes a gynecologist or orthopedist.

“This ends in complications and sometimes even in the patient’s death,” he said. “This makes all of us — the medical teams and you, those in charge of us in the Health and Defense ministries, complicit in the violation of Israeli law, and perhaps worse for me as a doctor, in the violation of my basic commitment to patients, wherever they are, as I swore when I graduated 20 years ago.”

The doctor claims in his letter that he warned the Health Ministry’s director-general about the appalling conditions at Sde Teiman, but that there have been “no substantial changes in the way the facility operates.”

An ethics committee visited the camp in February; the physician said that its members “are worried about their legal exposure and coverage in view of their involvement in a facility that is operated contrary to the provisions of the existing law.”

Last month, Haaretz revealed that 27 detainees have died in custody at the Sde Teiman and Anatot camps or during interrogation in Israel since Oct. 7. While some were Hamas or other militants captured or wounded while fighting IDF troops, others were civilians, including some with preexisting health conditions like the diabetic laborer who was not suspected of any offense when he was arrested and sent to his death at Anatot.

One former Sde Teiman detainee claims that he personally witnessed Israeli troops execute five prisoners in separate incidents.

Responding to the 27 detainee deaths and invoking the U.S. military prison in Cuba known for torture and indefinite detention, the Haaretz editorial board wrote last month that “Sde Teiman and the other detention facilities are not Guantánamo Bay and … the state has a duty to protect the rights of detainees even if they are not formally prisoners of war.”

“Israel’s indifference to the fate of Gazans, at best, and desire for revenge against them, at worst, are fertile ground for war crimes,” the editors said. “Indifference by Israelis and desire for revenge must not constitute license to shed the blood of detainees… The fact that Hamas is holding and abusing Israeli hostages cannot excuse or justify the abuse of Palestinian detainees.”

In December, the Geneva-based advocacy group Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor — which has also accused IDF troops of allowing Israeli civilians to witness the torture of Palestinian prisoners — demanded an investigation of what it called the “new Guantánamo.” 

Israeli rights groups and individuals have also condemned the abuses at Sde Teiman, which, like Guantánamo, has been described as a “concentration camp.”

“Enough, just enough. We have to stop this gallop into the abyss,” urged Hebrew University senior lecturer Tamar Megiddo on Wednesday. “This war has to end. This government needs to end.”

Brett Wilkins is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

This article is from  Common Dreams.

Views expressed in this article and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

17 comments for “Israeli Doctor Blows Whistle on War Crimes

  1. Piotr Berman
    April 6, 2024 at 08:20

    Morality is a concept of member of society or international community conforming to rules that prevent lives from being “short, miserable and brutish” that follow cycles of abuses and retaliations. This rationale evaporates when a hegemon may act with impunity, raising a rarely discussed question: what do you do when you can do everything?

    One approach is to stick to morality, e.g. epicurean philosophers argued that apart for safety considerations, morality makes people happier. The second approach is to cement the hegemony in various ways, in particular, by making it clear to all that you indeed can do everything. One method is having a dog that bites others with impunity.


    Sadly for Biden family, it did not work, not for the lack of trying. Personally, he is not a hegemon. But as a state, USA has such a dog.

  2. Vera Gottlieb
    April 6, 2024 at 05:21

    The anxiety all this causes me makes me turn against Zionists.

  3. Vera Gottlieb
    April 6, 2024 at 04:18

    The ‘moral’ army??? Makes me feel ashamed of belonging to the WHITE RACE.

  4. WillD
    April 5, 2024 at 23:19

    Just how far will Israel go in its deranged & brutal attempts to exterminate all Palestinians and steal all of their land? Will it go so far as to use nukes and chemical warfare as some Israelis have called for?

    Equally, how much longer will the world ‘fail’ to act to stop it? The UN seems powerless, the US still keeps sending weapons & money despite global protests and condemnation, and Israel’s neighbours fear US intervention & Israeli nukes if they act to stop the slaughter.

    The US has mutliple ways to stop this – but it won’t act. It has been taken hostage by the powerful Jewish lobby.

    This time will go down in history as the US’ biggest global failure and humiliation, and as the final turning point in its hegemonic collapse. It has failed in its long planned aggression towards Russia, it has failed in its control of the Middle East, and it is starting to understand that it won’t be able to fight a war with China successfully. It has destroyed Eurpe’s economy, and its own is failing badly despite artifically inflated statistics.

    • Piotr Berman
      April 6, 2024 at 08:08

      From early on, Israel goals could be at best described as “complete ethnic cleansing of Palestine”, but moderated by perceived (and real) limits of what it can get away with. This created two dynamics:

      as the perceived and real limits are getting increasingly relaxed, Israel escalates

      political parties committed to “staying within envelope” are getting discredited, and after decades of American permissiveness, political scene has tiny “left” remaining, the a variety of offshoots of Likud (Netanyahu couple seems to have knack for alienating people) amalgamated with former “left” that abandoned discredited beliefs about “envelope”, Likud itself and religious fanatics resistant to any rational arguments.

      This is a reflection of American political situation in respect to Middle East. Anti-Palestinian fanatics are very visible, and disregard of international (and internal) condemnation even more visible, as the propaganda tools of tamping down on such condemnations get improved. This is the background of “sensible plan to cow Palestinians to submission and voluntary exile through starvation and terror”. Characteristically, abuses of Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram base and secret sites, like other abuses, are copied as “within the allowed envelope”.

      At some point, the “stretched envelope” may turn into bursting balloon. Consequences are hard to predict.

    • GG
      April 7, 2024 at 17:42

      If I ever hear “Never Again” I will vomit. Netanyahu is the reincarnation of Hitler. The US needs to stop it’s devotion to this menace of the Middle East once and for all time.

  5. anon
    April 5, 2024 at 21:37

    To state the obvious, these israeli cretins have long since left the human race! They are lower than the nazi gestapo: to cause amputations can only be described in the must horrific and despicable terms.

  6. April 5, 2024 at 20:30

    And they claim to be God’s chosen people?

    • Vera Gottlieb
      April 6, 2024 at 10:31

      Would ‘god’ ever acknowledge the mistake???

  7. CaseyG
    April 5, 2024 at 18:22

    WELL—–it’s official—-ISRAEL has morphed into the New NAZIS!

    Apparently, GOD has now been replaced by the NEO NAZIS of Israel . TORTURE has replaced government and even religion. .

    • GC
      April 7, 2024 at 17:44

      I agree.

  8. Stan Squires
    April 5, 2024 at 18:02

    I am from Vancouver,Canada and i wanted to say that Israel has committed Multiple War crimes and Crimes against Humanity since October 7th. The western countries of Canada,USA and Europe have turned a blind eye to these War crimes and crimes against Humanity by Israel. That makes these countries complicit in these War crimes and crimes against Humanity.
    Yemen is doing a good job in supporting Palestine and got support in Canada,USA and Europe. I can’t say that about Canada,USA and Europe who support Israeli Genocide, Apartheid and the killing of children in Gaza.

    • Steve
      April 6, 2024 at 10:31

      This is not new and certainly didn’t start on October the 7th. This has been going on since 1948. The only recent change is the scale and how open and blatant the abuses now are.
      Israel has got away with this for over 70 years thanks to the complicity of the West. There is currently no reason to think this situation will change as all political leaders explicitly support Israels genocide of the Palestinians.

    • Vera Gottlieb
      April 6, 2024 at 10:32

      NO! not since October 7th…rather since May 1948 to present…

      • April 6, 2024 at 18:56

        It has been going on for 100 years, since the UK took over from the Ottomans and the attacks on Palestinians and British troops began.
        The Nakba began the day following the adoption of UN resolution 181(ii) on 30 Nov, 1947.
        I spent most of my adult life cheering for Israel, until reading Norman Finkelstein’s work.

  9. Guy St Hilaire
    April 5, 2024 at 16:09

    Nothing surprises me anymore about how Palestinians are treated in Israel .The world will not forget or forgive anymore .The Israeli government and it’s military have now past any red lines in regards to human rights .The victim card has now been burnt and for a very long time.

  10. Bob Martin
    April 5, 2024 at 15:21

    Israel is a deeply sick society. The government must be dismantled and a new state formed free of apartheid, discrimination, second-class citizenship and human rights abuses. Enough is enough!

Comments are closed.