A veiled “pregnant woman” in a wheelchair and a group of what looked like Palestinian men made their way down a corridor in the al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron early on Thursday, blending into their surroundings, until the men suddenly pulled out assault rifles and handguns, and began moving quickly, in search of their target.
Dramatic CCTV footage released by the hospital revealed how the Border Police’s elite counterterrorism unit snuck into the hospital to arrest Azzam Shalalda, 20, on suspicion of stabbing and seriously injuring an Israeli civilian on October 25.
Acting on Shin Bet intelligence, the counterterrorism unit secured the hallway as other officers walked into a hospital room to arrest Shalalda.
During the course of the arrest, Shalada’s cousin attempted to attack security personnel and was shot dead during the raid, security sources said. Within minutes, undercover officers left the building with their target, speeding away in minivans, according to local eyewitnesses.
Shalalda, whose family includes Hamas operatives, was shot by the civilian he stabbed on October 25 near the settlement of Meizad, but was able to flee, and was in the hospital to receive medical care. He is a resident of Sa’ir, near Hebron.
The Shin Bet said that security forces “will not allow safe refuge for terrorist operatives, whoever they are.”
The director of al-Ahli Hospital, Jehad Shawar, told Reuters Television that 20-30 men had arrived at the clinic in two minivans.
“They came as undercover security, not even as soldiers, to arrest one of the patients who was lying injured in his bed. The crime even became uglier when they surprised a companion of the patient and shot him with five bullets and executed him in the hospital,” Shawar told reporters at the hospital room still spotted with blood stains and bullet holes.
“It is a clear breach of all international laws and all ethics related to hospitals. It is well known that hospitals are a safe place to everyone. So what do you think when a unit of undercover security raid a hospital?” he added.
Shalalda’s brother Bilal, who was asleep in vigil beside him, was tied to the bed by security personnel, and his cousin, who was in the bathroom, was shot dead. Bilal, who was not detained by the Israeli forces, described to Reuters TV what had happened.
“At 3 a.m., around 50 undercover security men with false beards raided [the hospital] and the first thing they did was to cuff my hands to a bed.
Abdallah was walking out of the bathroom as he was preparing to pray, the undercover security men asked him to stand at his place and as he was looking at them, they shot him. They left him on the ground for around five minutes, he lost all of his blood and then they hit my brother and arrested him,” he told Reuters Television.