Uproar in Israel – Release of Dr. Abu Salmiya Sparks Leadership Dispute

Israeli army arrested Al-Shifa Hospital director. (Photo: via AJA, Video grab)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

Former war cabinet minister Benny Gantz, who resigned last month, said on Monday that “whoever made this decision lacks judgment and should be fired today”.

Tensions have escalated between Israel’s political and military leaderships as ministers, army leaders, the internal security service, Shabak, and the opposition leader in the Knesset exchanged accusations regarding the future of the war on Gaza and the reasons behind the release of Dr. Muhammad Abu Salmiya, director of the Al-Shifa Medical Complex.

“Israel is committed to achieving all the goals of the war on Gaza and remains dedicated to its proposal for a prisoner exchange deal, which has been welcomed by US President Joe Biden,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated at the beginning of the weekly government session, according to Al-Jazeera. 

‘Military and Political Pressure’

Netanyahu reportedly accused the Palestinian Movement Hamas of obstructing the deal, adding, “Through military and political pressure, we will bring back all detainees, living and dead.”

“We are committed to fighting until we achieve all our goals: eliminating Hamas, returning all detainees, ensuring Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel, and safely returning our residents in the south and north,” Al-Jazeera quoted him as saying.

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich reportedly stated that only military rule in Gaza would allow the occupation and control of the Strip and prevent Hamas’s return. 

“For every country that unilaterally recognizes the Palestinian state, we will establish a new Jewish settlement in the West Bank,” Ben-Gvir added, according to the report.

In contrast, Yedioth Ahronoth quoted Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid as saying that Netanyahu’s government opposed the exchange deal with Hamas and now plans to end the war without returning the captives. 

Lapid argued that Israel is in a crisis, and the only solution is to hold elections, with strikes as a tool to achieve this. He criticized Netanyahu’s government as problematic and said protests are the only way to save Israel.

Lapid also attacked Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, stating they were incapable of running a government office.

For his party, Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the Yisrael Beytenu party, told Hebrew Radio that the ongoing war with Hamas and Hezbollah is poorly managed, as Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant have not communicated for months. 

Lieberman added that Israel must confront Iran directly and called for completely isolating Gaza, maintaining military action freedom, and declaring the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) a terrorist organization.

‘Security Negligence’

Ben-Gvir and the Internal Security Agency Shin Bet have exchanged accusations over the release of Dr. Muhammad Abu Salmiya after more than seven months of detention. 

Ben-Gvir described the release as a “security negligence”, emphasizing the disagreement was not about prison space but the Shin Bet’s desire to improve conditions or release Palestinian detainees. 

“I will not allow the conditions of Palestinian detainees to improve while we have hungry kidnappers in Gaza,” the far-right minister added.

Channel 14 reported that Netanyahu’s office was angered to learn about Abu Salmiya’s release from the media, with Defense Minister Yoav Galant finding out the same way. 

Netanyahu’s office stated that the release decisions were based on the Supreme Court’s directive to reduce detainees in the Sde Teman’ detention center, with names chosen by security authorities. Netanyahu has ordered an investigation into the release incident.

The Shin Bet cited prison overcrowding as the reason for Abu Salmiya’s release, a situation it had long warned about. 

Channel 12 quoted a security source indicating that the Prisoners and Intelligence Divisions of the Prison Service, under Minister Ben-Gvir, were responsible for the release.

The Israeli Prison Service, however, claimed that the release decision was made by the army and Shin Bet and was not due to overcrowding.

Former war cabinet minister Benny Gantz, who resigned last month, said that “whoever made this decision lacks judgment and should be fired today,” the Washington Post reported.

The Israeli occupation released the director of the Shifa Medical Complex in Gaza City, Dr. Abu Salmiya, after nearly eight months of detention, along with a number of medical personnel who were arrested by the occupation from hospitals in the Gaza Strip.

Abu Salmiya is a prominent Palestinian pediatrician who assumed the position of medical director of Al-Nasser Hospital in 2007, then took over the management of Al-Rantisi Hospital in 2015, to later become director of the Al-Shifa Hospital in 2019 until his arrest on November 23, 2023.

Citing informed sources, Al-Jazeera reported that the Israeli army released about 50 prisoners who arrived east of the Al-Qarara area in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on Monday morning.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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