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Israeli doctor says detained Palestinians are undergoing ‘routine’ amputations for handcuff injuries

A doctor at a field hospital for detained Palestinians at Israel’s Sde Teiman army base has described “deplorable conditions” and “routine” amputations due to handcuff injuries, according to an exclusive report from the newspaper Haaretz.

In a letter to Israel’s attorney general and defense and health ministers, obtained by Haaretz, the doctor said the conditions at Sde Teiman field hospital compromise inmates’ health and violate medical ethics.

“Just this week, two prisoners had their legs amputated due to handcuff injuries, which unfortunately is a routine event,” the doctor said in the letter, according to the Haaretz report on Thursday. He wrote that inappropriate care at the detention facility has led to “complications and sometimes even in the patient’s death,” adding that “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.”

Haaretz reported that the doctor said “inmates are fed through straws, defecate in diapers and are held [in] constant restraints, which violate medical ethics and the law.” It is not clear when the doctor penned the letter.

In a written statement to CNN responding to the claims, an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson said: “The IDF operates according to the law and within the framework of the law when it comes to the treatment of detainees. Every procedure is documented and supervised, and is done with extreme care for the human dignity of the detainees, in accordance with the principles of Israeli and international law.”

The IDF statement continued, “The handcuffing of the detainees is carried out in accordance with the procedures, their health condition and the level of danger posed by them, in order to ensure the safety of the forces and the medical staff.”

“According to the IDF’s instructions, violence against detainees is absolutely prohibited. The IDF protects the rights of the detainees held in the detention facilities, and regularly briefs the forces regarding the required conduct towards detainees, including the prohibition of resorting to violence,” the IDF statement said..

“Any allegation of violence or humiliation for which concrete details will be provided will be examined and dealt with individually,” the IDF said

A spokesperson for Israel’s health ministry said they had nothing further to add.

CNN spoke to a source who has a medical background and previously visited the Sde Teiman field hospital. They confirmed seeing detainees held in constant restraints.

The medical source, who spoke to CNN on Thursday on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said all the Gazan detainees they saw at the field hospital had all four limbs shackled, which the source said increases the risk of blood clotting and other health concerns.

The source said the detainees were blindfolded and that at least three patients they saw were wearing diapers.

The medical source highlighted the systematic “dehumanizing” of detainees at the field hospital, which they described as a large “tent” that is “not insulated” from the elements.

“We were asked not to use our names,” the medical source told CNN, adding that the Gazan prisoners were identified by serial numbers, rather than their names.

The medical source told CNN it appeared that nursing and medical staff at the facility tried to give the detainees appropriate care and “the treatment they deserve,” but they were limited by what they could do.

‘Ethical failures’ at Sde Teiman

The Sde Teiman field hospital and detention facility, located on an army base in southern Israel near the city of Beer Sheva, was established by the Israeli military shortly after Hamas’ October 7 attacks.

The field hospital was created after Israeli civilian hospitals declined to admit Gazan detainees or terror suspects, according to a report from the non-profit organization Physicians for Human Rights-Israel.

The Physicians for Human Rights-Israel report on Sde Teiman, which documents ‘ethical failures’ at the field hospital, also highlighted that “security forces at the field hospital require all detained persons to remain handcuffed and blindfolded at all times, including during medical treatment.”

“Media reports indicate that Gaza residents held at this military facility endure harsh conditions, being restrained with their hands behind their backs and occasionally bound to a fence for prolonged periods, spanning entire and consecutive days. These circumstances lead to substantial physical and psychological harm,” the Physicians for Human Rights-Israel report added.

According to the Haaretz report, the doctor said in his letter to the Israeli health and defense ministries that the field hospital “is staffed most of the day by a single doctor, accompanied by a nursing team, some with no more than medic training,” and in some cases the doctor on shift is an orthopedist or gynecologist. “This ends in complications and sometimes even in the patient’s death,” the doctor wrote, Haaretz reported.

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