Thu. Jul 25th, 2024

The Shin Bet and the IDF have released 50 Gaza detainees, including the director of Shifa Hospital Muhammad Abu Salmiya, who has been in administrative detention in Israel since November 23.

Although Hamas was using Shifa Hospital as a terror base and to conceal hostages, there was never any concrete proof publicly produced that Abu Salmiya was directly involved in this.

Abu Salmiya’s questioning

Back in November, a senior IDF source told The Jerusalem Post that Abu Salmiya had given suspicious answers when questioned about what he knew about Hamas’s systematic usage of his hospital, but suspicious answers without evidence cannot usually be used to hold someone in administrative detention for more than seven months.

Abu Salmiya had three hearings before the courts, the last of which was made quasi public in December 2023.

Sources in December 2023 told the Post that he had a hearing before an unidentified Israeli civilian Magistrate’s Court via videoconference in which his detention was extended. The same process recurred later at some unidentified point in the Spring of this year.

IDF launches new op. in Gaza’s Shifa hospital, reporting terror activity (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON UNIT)

There have been no updates about his status since November-December 2023 with legal and security sources merely saying that cases are taking a long time due to the ongoing war and massive size of detainees.

Further, there was never a specific explanation why an indictment of Abu Samiya could not be produced after several months.

Israel has not been releasing detainee numbers, but by adding together announcements of arrests at different times, the Post understands that likely more than 4,000 Gazans have been detained and the IDF has announced detaining over 4,100 West Bank Palestinians.

Previously, Abu Salmiya was being criminally probed by the Shin Bet under current war emergency regulations relating to Hamas and other terrorists connected to the war.

As part of those regulations, Abu Salmiya had been prevented from meeting with a lawyer at least for a number of weeks.

Though sources did not identify the civilian court, traditionally, the Beersheba courts have handled a variety of Gazan terror cases.

 For weeks in November, the Post had only been hinted to informally by some sources that he remained in Shin Bet custody, with the IDF legal division, the Shin Bet, the Justice Ministry, and the police all declining to comment on the record.

Under standard rules in Israeli civilian courts, the state must generally file an indictment within a certain number of days or, in exceptional circumstances, within a few weeks, in order to justify keeping a suspect in detention.

Abu Salmiya  said, “The situation in the prison is tragic and very difficult, and there must be a firm word from the resistance and the Arab people for the release of the prisoners,” upon his return to Gaza.

Prior to the IDF’s invasion of Shifa Hospital in November, Hamas terrorists murdered the hostage Noa Marciano in the area of the hospital.

Documentation published at the time by Israel showed Hamas terrorists taking two hostages, a Nepali citizen and a Thai citizen, into Shifa Hospital, with one of them wounded and being led to a hospital bed while the other was walking.

The IDf reinvaded Shifa Hospital in March, but by then Abu Salmiya had been in detention for several months and certainly could not be charged with anything related to Hamas’s more blatant terror activities during that period.

In contrast, the IDF allowed the vast majority of Hamas’s fighters to escape Shifa in November when thousands of civilians fled the area.

Opposition politicians and government ministers traded accusations on Monday about who was responsible for Abu Salmiya’s release and the release of dozens of other Gazan detainees.

The government, the Shin Bet, and the IDF have already released several hundred Gazan detainees periodically over many months, generally with no announcement and in the middle of the night.

The process embarrasses government right-wing ministers and so they have blamed it on the Shin Bet, though the government and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have authority over the Shin Bet.

The Shin Bet has been engulfed with political attacks since October 7 by Netanyahu and his allies who have tried to blame any security failure on it and the IDF to avoid blame.

Netanyahu put out a statement that he did not know who was being released and also blaming detainee releases on the High Court of Justice, which is also bound by Knesset laws.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant also said that he did not know which detainees would be released, but this is also within his authority to know.

The agency’s administrative detention practices are controversial worldwide, and even Israeli law puts limits on how long someone can be held without bringing them to trial and has standards of evidence which must be met.

The government could lower those standards if it wanted to, but in the meantime the Shin Bet is bound by existing law passed by the Knesset.

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#Israel #releases #Gaza #detainees

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