Political tensions in Israel have reached a boiling point following the unexpected release of about 50 Palestinian detainees from Gaza, including the prominent figure Muhammad Abu Salmiya. This move has sparked significant backlash within the Israeli political landscape, raising questions about the decision-making processes within the government.

The release has drawn sharp criticism from various Israeli officials. Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s far-right internal security minister, condemned the action and called for immediate accountability. It was revealed that Defence Minister Yoav Gallant was reportedly unaware of the detainee release, leading Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to order an inquiry to investigate the circumstances surrounding the decision. The decision follows a series of hearings by the High Court.

Benny Gantz described as both an operational and moral error. Meanwhile, Yair Lapid criticised the government’s dysfunction, stating it poses a significant threat to Israeli security. Bezalel Smotrich labelled the release as a scandal and a major failure.

Leaked WhatsApp messages suggest that Ben-Gvir has called for the resignation of the head of Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service.

The release of Muhammad Abu Salmiya has prompted significant concern from human rights organisations. The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor has expressed fears for his life, warning of the potential for re-arrest or targeted killing. Hamas has called for the protection of detainees and demanded transparency from the International Committee of the Red Cross regarding their status and well-being.

Meanwhile, the conflict continues to escalate with heavy Israeli attacks reported in northern and southern Gaza, as well as in the West Bank. Israeli tanks have advanced into Gaza City. The Israeli military has faced accusations of using Palestinian prisoners as human shields. Since the launch of its military onslaught in Gaza on 7 October, Israel has killed 37,900 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and wounded 80,060 others.

Gaza’s health ministry has reported 23 deaths and 91 injuries in recent Israeli strikes, with many victims trapped under rubble and rescuers struggling to reach them. Among the casualties is Sergeant Ori Itzchak Hadad, who died alongside nine other soldiers wounded in a Gaza tunnel explosion.

A joint statement from representatives of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the EU, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the UK condemned the Israeli destruction in Um al-Kheir, Hebron.