TNA Arabic reporter Diaa al-Kahlout: 'Interrogation focused on my journalistic work'
On Tuesday morning Israeli forces released journalist Diaa al-Kahlout, the bureau chief of The New Arab's Arabic language sister site in Gaza, after he was arrested and detained without charge for several weeks.
On 7 December, the Israeli army detained Kahlout alongside scores of other Palestinians from Beit Lahia city in north Gaza.
Throughout his detention, Israel refused to disclose any details as to Kahlout's whereabouts or his health condition.
Following his release today, Kahlout spoke to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed about the moment of his detention, and said that the Israeli army's treatment of himself and other detained Palestinians was "indescribably tough and difficult".
He added: "The moment I was detained, Israeli soldiers crowded round me and I heard the word "journalist" said more than once, before they gagged me with tape so I couldn’t speak. They were mocking journalists and their work."
He said he was subjected to beatings and torture several times, particularly by agents of the Shin Bet, Israel's internal security agency . This included the "Shabah" technique - a torture method where prisoners are hung by their hands for hours or even days at a time.
Kahlout said that he had spent 25 out of the 33 days of his detention forced to remain in a kneeling position, which caused him severe pain.
He added that the conditions he and other Palestinians were held in were inhumane, and they had also faced indirect abuse and insults from the Israeli soldiers.
During his questioning, Israeli interrogators concentrated on his journalism and especially on reports Al-Araby Al-Jadeed had published in 2018, concerning an incident where a Hamas patrol unit had confronted an Israeli undercover unit, Sayeret Matkal, as it attempted to carry out a secret operation in the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli unit had secretly entered eastern Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip in an undercover operation which failed, and which led to the killing of the unit commander and injury of others.
Kahlout was detained in an Israeli army camp near the Karam Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) commercial crossing, east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
Immediately following his release he was taken to a tent belonging to the UN on the Palestinian side of the crossing where he stayed a short time before being transferred to hospital for a health check.
Throughout the duration of Kahlout's detention, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed called on all human rights and international organisations to put pressure on Israel to release him.
However, Israel ignored all demands for Kahlout's release, even when news of the deterioration of his health emerged after Palestinians detained with him but later released gave details on his whereabouts and condition.
Since the start of Israel's current assault on the Gaza Strip which began on 7 October 2023, Israeli forces have killed 111 journalists in Gaza, most recently , Mustafa Thuraya, Ali Salem Abu Ajwa and Abdullah Iyad Baris, and Hamza Dahdouh - the son of veteran Al-Jazeera correspondent Wael Dahdouh - according to Gaza's media office.