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In Sam Harris' recent podcast (timestamp 40:45), he claims the following.

Most people don’t realize that the current head of Hamas, Sinwar, was cured of brain cancer, while in an Israeli prison. The actual mastermind behind the October 7th attacks was someone whose life had been saved by a Jewish oncologist.

I have attempted to do some research on this. While it is true that Sinwar was treated by an Israeli oncologist while in prison, I have not been able to find evidence indicating that the oncologist was Jewish.

It appears that one of Sinwar's dentists while in prison was likely Jewish (I infer this since per the linked article the dentist's name is Yuval Bitton, and the last name appears to be Sephardic). However, I have not been able to find any information on the oncologist who treated Sinwar.

Is there evidence proving Harris' claim that the oncologist who treated Sinwar was Jewish?

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  • 1
    Related question (not a duplicate): Did Netanyahu express support of Hamas in 2019?
    – Avery
    Feb 1 at 21:08
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    @Avery: how is that related?
    – lr0
    Feb 1 at 23:36
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    He was probably treated by an Israeli oncologist, 73.2% of Israeli population are Jewish.
    – lr0
    Feb 1 at 23:39
  • @lr0 It seems to make the claim more believable, at least to me. But neither that question nor the 73.2% statistic actually provides us an answer
    – Avery
    Feb 1 at 23:57

1 Answer 1

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Sinwar was diagnosed with brain cancer while under custody in the Israeli prison and then was treated and operated in Assaf Harofeh hospital. The names and identities of his treating staff are not given. It would be highly unlikely that, in Israel, none of the treating staff were Jewish.

From an interview with Tat-Gundar Betty Lahat who was the head intelligence officer of the Israeli Prison Service and was the commander of the prison where Sinwar was held:

"הוא נורא פחד. כשהתחילו לו כאבי ראש, שלחנו אותו מכלא נפחא בדרום לכלא איילון, ומאוחר יותר גילו לו גידול ליד המוח, והבנאדם פשוט התפרק, כי זה היה סרטן מזן מאוד אלים. הבאנו אותו לבית החולים אסף הרופא, והוא עבר שם ניתוח להסרת הגידול. באתי לראות אותו אחרי הניתוח. אמרתי לו, 'אתה רואה, בסוף מדינת ישראל שאתה כל כך יוצא נגדה, הצילה את החיים שלך'. והאיש התחיל לבכות. אשכרה לבכות ולהתחנן בפניי שאגיד לו שהוא ייצא מהסיפור הזה ושהוא לא עומד למות. הוא אמר, 'אף אחד לא מסביר לי מה המצב שלי, אפילו המשפחה שלי לא יודעת אם זה הסוף שלי'.

"אז קראתי לרופא שהסביר לו שניקו את הגידול וכרגע לא רואים גרורות. אבל סנוואר המשיך להיות מבוהל. בכל פעם שראה אותי שאל, 'מה יהיה איתי, הגידול לא יחזור?'. אחרי שהוא התאושש, העבירו אותו לבית חולים של השב"ס ברמלה, ובכירים מהרשות הפלסטינית ביקשו לבקר אותו ואפשרו להם. תחילה הגיע השר לענייני אסירים סופיאן אבו זיידה, וכשהוא יצא מהביקור שאלתי אותו, 'נו, מה, הגיבור בכה גם לך?', והוא אמר, 'כן, אין מה לעשות, סנוואר פוחד על החיים שלו'".

"He was terribly afraid. When he started having headaches, we sent him from Nafha prison in the south to Ayalon prison, and later they discovered a tumor near his brain, and the man just fell apart, because it was a very violent type of cancer. We brought him to Assaf Harofeh Hospital, and he underwent surgery to remove The tumor. I came to see him after the surgery. I told him, 'You see, in the end the State of Israel, which you are so against, saved your life.' He said, 'No one explains to me what my situation is, not even my family knows if this is the end of me.'

"So I called the doctor who explained to him that the tumor had been removed and currently no metastases are seen. But Sinwar continued to be frightened. Every time he saw me he asked, 'What will happen to me, the tumor will not return?'. After he recovered, he was transferred to an Israeli Prison Service hospital in Ramlah, and senior officials from the Palestinian Authority asked to visit him and were allowed to. First, the minister for prisoners' affairs, Sufian Abu Zaida, arrived, and when he left the visit, I asked him, 'Well, what, the hero cried to you too?', and he said, 'Yes, there is nothing to be done, Sinwar is afraid for his life.'"

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