Skip to main content

War on Gaza: Palestinians demand probe for doctor 'killed under Israeli torture'

Dr Iyad Rantisi becomes the second physician known to have died in Israeli custody amid reports of systematic torture and abuse
Dr Iyad Rantisi died at an Israeli interrogation facility six days after he was abducted from the Gaza Strip (X)

Palestinians have called for an international investigation into the death “under torture” of a doctor in Israeli detention after he was abducted by soldiers from the Gaza Strip last year. 

Dr Iyad Rantisi, who was the director of Kamal Adwan hospital’s maternity department, died in November, six days after he was imprisoned by invading Israeli troops. 

The Gaza-based government media office strongly condemned his “assassination” and called for an urgent probe by relevant international organisations.

It said his death was part of ongoing Israeli crimes against Palestinian doctors from the Gaza Strip. 

According to the media office, Israeli forces have killed nearly 500 Palestinian medical workers and detained 310 more in the ongoing onslaught

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


Rantisi is the second known Palestinian doctor to die in Israeli custody as physicians reportedly face increased abuse and torture by interrogators and guards.  

In April, Palestinian surgeon and professor of orthopaedic medicine, Dr Adnan al-Bursh was killed by torture while in Israeli detention, according to the Palestinian Prisoners' Society. 

The Palestinian health ministry on Tuesday demanded that the fate of the remaining doctors in detention be urgently disclosed.

“The Ministry of Health calls on all international and human rights institutions to reveal the fate of dozens of health personnel who were kidnapped from hospitals while carrying out their humanitarian duty,” it said in a brief statement. 

Rantisi’s death was reported on Tuesday first by Haaretz then by Al Jazeera Arabic.

According to Haaretz, he died at an interrogation facility run by the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal intelligence agency. A court in Israel had banned publication of details about his death for six months. 

Israeli authorities have not explained the circumstances of both Rantisi’s and Bursh’s deaths.   

Rantisi was detained by Israeli forces at a checkpoint in the Gaza Strip while complying with orders by the military to flee northern Gaza to the south, including evacuating hospitals. 

Torture in detention

Israel has "deliberately" destroyed Gaza’s health system through constant attacks on hospitals, ambulances, and doctors, including via air strikes, detentions, and denial of medical equipment. 

This Gaza doctor refused to abandon his patients. Israel tortured him to death
Read More »

Israeli authorities have also been accused of widespread and systematic torture and abuse of Palestinian detainees and prisoners since 7 October.

This has led to the death of around 60 Palestinians in Israeli custody, at least 40 of them from the Gaza Strip, including 36 who died in the notorious detention camp at the Sde Teiman military base, according to a tally by Middle East Eye based on media reports. 

Israeli forces have detained between 4,000 and 5,000 people from the Gaza Strip in the military's ongoing invasion, including women, children, the elderly, paramedics, journalists, doctors, and aid workers, Palestinian and Israeli authorities say. 

More than 1,500 are believed to have been released back to the Gaza Strip.

Released Palestinians have described some of the ill-treatment they had endured.

This has included being sexually abused, electrocuted, beaten, deprived of food and sleep, humiliated and kept in degrading positions, urinated on, and being handcuffed tightly for prolonged periods, causing severe injuries that led to amputation in some cases. 

Last month, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Alice Jill Edwards said there was an “emerging pattern of violations coupled with an absence of accountability and transparency,” by Israeli authorities regarding allegations of torture and mistreatment against Palestinian detainees. 

Edwards expressed concern that this was “creating a permissive environment for further abusive and humiliating treatment of Palestinians”. 

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.