Shin Bet releases 40 Palestinian prisoners ahead of Ramadan

The Israeli security service said that there was a lack of space in Ofer prison


Relatives and friends of Palestinians imprisoned in Israel lift placards and portraits at a rally calling for their release and the return of the bodies of those who died during incarceration, in the Hebron city center in the occupied West Bank on February 27, 2024. (Photo by HAZEM BADER / AFP) (Photo by HAZEM BADER/AFP via Getty Images)

(JNS) Forty Palestinian administrative detainees were released from jail on Thursday night at the directive of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) in a move that Itamar Ben-Gvir said was a “gesture” ahead of Ramadan.

Video footage aired by Israel’s Kan News public broadcaster showed security detainees, who were freed from Ofer Prison near Ramallah, celebrating their release.

The Israeli government said the move was due to a lack of space in the prison, and that the men were due to be released in March. 

Authorities said the move was designed to free up space “for detainees of a higher threat level.”

But Israel’s security minister Itamar Ben Gvir said he disagreed with the move and accused the Shin Bet of trying to appease the Palestinians, just hours after a fatal terror attack outside the settlement of Eli.

“The administrative detainees who were released from the prisons this evening were not released due to lack of space in the prisons—but because of a direct order of the head of the Shin Bet [Ronen Bar] as a ‘gesture’ in preparation for Ramadan,” tweeted Ben-Gvir.

He said that the Israel Prison Service, which falls under the authority of his ministry, was unable to prevent the move.

“It is alarming that on the day two Jews were murdered, the head of the Shin Bet decides to make gestures to the murderers, and this is a day after the Shin Bet requested the extension of the administrative detention of a Jewish settler for the second time,” the minister added.

On Thursday afternoon, a Palestinian terrorist murdered two Israelis at a gas station outside the town of Eli in the Binyamin region of the West Bank.

Earlier this week, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant extended the administrative detention of right-wing activist Ariel Danino by three months, a day before the original order was due to expire.

A security official told Israel Hayom that “contrary to the disclosure of the national security minister, this is not a gesture and the matter was even clarified as part of tonight’s Cabinet discussion.”

He added that the Shin Bet and Israel Defense Forces have warned about the lack of space in prisons in recent months and that it was the National Security Ministry’s task to find a solution.

Since the start of the war on October 7, around 3,250 Palestinian terror suspects have been captured in arrest raids throughout Judea and Samaria, including more than 1,350 who are associated with Hamas, the IDF announced Tuesday.

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