On the morning of July 1, Mohammed Abu Salamiya, director of Gaza's Shifa Hospital, was released from detention along with 54 other Palestinian detainees. Salamiya was detained on November 23, 2023, during an operation at the hospital. At that time, the IDF and Shin Bet issued a joint statement asserting that the hospital served as a headquarters for the Hamas terrorist organization. They claimed that Hamas used the hospital's resources for tunnel operations and stored weapons within and around the hospital. Furthermore, they alleged that Hamas used the hospital as a refuge for its operatives and held Israeli hostages there.

Upon his release, Abu Salamiya accused Israel of mistreating detainees and called for the "resistance" to work towards freeing all prisoners. He claimed that many detainees, including medical staff, were suffering from hunger and promised that Shifa Hospital would be restored and resume its operations.

It's not the first instance of releasing detainees previously arrested during military operations in Gaza. Last week, the IDF reported that some 4,700 suspects had been detained in Gaza since the war began, with about 1,000 subsequently released and returned to Gaza.

Shin Bet and the Prime Minister's Office have not officially commented on Abu Salamiya's release. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant's office stated that he was not informed about the release. Many Knesset members and ministers expressed surprise and criticism, questioning the lack of government discussion on the decision.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir called for the dismissal of Shin Bet head Ronen Bar, while Interior Minister Moshe Arbel suggested examining Ben-Gvir's responsibility as his ministry oversees the prisons. In response, Ben-Gvir stated that new prison spaces and detention facilities are being created.

Social Security Minister Yaakov Margi remarked that Abu Salamiya would likely be killed by Hamas in Gaza. Opposition leader Yair Lapid criticized the situation as evidence of government incompetence. Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, compared Abu Salamiya to Dr. Mengele and condemned the release as immoral and harmful to Israel's security.

Abu Salamiya, a trained pediatrician, has been the director of various hospitals in Gaza, including Shifa, since 2019. Military operations at Shifa from November 2023 to April 2024 uncovered weapons, ammunition, and tunnels used by terrorists, with hundreds of terrorists killed and about a thousand suspects detained.

Shin Bet released a statement explaining that the decision to release detainees was due to overcrowding in detention facilities and a lack of prison space. They emphasized the need for more detention capacity to avoid compromising national security.

Mohammed Abu Salamiya had a notable career in Gaza's healthcare system. Since 2007, he served as the director of Al-Nasr Hospital. In 2015, he took over as the director of Al-Rantisi Hospital. From 2019 until his arrest on November 23, 2023, he was the director of Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

Military operations at the Shifa hospital complex were conducted in several phases from November 2023 to April 2024. During these operations, hundreds of terrorists were eliminated, and up to a thousand terror suspects were detained. A significant amount of weapons, ammunition, underground facilities, and tunnels used by terrorists were discovered on the hospital grounds. Israeli forces often had to engage in combat with terrorists while taking measures to avoid harming medical staff and patients, necessitating evacuations.

Shin Bet Statement

In response to media inquiries following the release of Mohammed Abu Salamiya, the Shin Bet issued an official statement:

"Recently, a decision was made to change the designation of the Sde Teiman prison, limiting the detention period to short-term stays. As per this decision, Shin Bet and the IDF, following discussions led by the Counter-Terrorism Bureau under the National Security Council (NSC), were required to take measures to release dozens of detainees to free up prison space. For about a year, Shin Bet has been warning on all possible forums, both in writing and orally, about the dire conditions of detainees and the urgent need to increase detention facilities, considering the necessity to arrest terrorists in Israel and the Gaza Strip. The severe conditions have led to the daily cancellation of arrests of terror suspects, directly impacting national security. This evening, arrests were again canceled, including those of wanted individuals planning attacks against Israeli citizens. Unfortunately, these requests, made to all relevant parties, including the Ministry of National Security, have yielded no positive results, and the actual number of detention facilities in the country has not increased. While Shin Bet opposes the release of detainees in Judea and Samaria who pose an immediate danger and Hamas militants involved in combat operations, given the state's needs as defined by the NSC, it was decided to release a certain number of detainees from the Gaza Strip who pose a lesser threat. This decision was made after assessing the threat level of each detainee. Although the director of Al-Shifa Hospital meets the criteria regarding the level of threat he poses, the incident will be investigated. Without an immediate solution to the shortage of detention facilities, arrests will continue to be canceled, and detainees will continue to be released."