Bassam Al-Saadi is seen at a military court in the West Bank, August 11, 2022. (Photo credit: Doron Kadosh/Army Radio, courtesy)
An Israeli military court extended the detention of senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) official Bassam al-Saadi on 11 August, a week after his arrest.
Al-Saadi’s arrest led Tel Aviv to close all roads in and out of Gaza before launching unprovoked airstrikes in the besieged enclave. As of Thursday, the Palestinian death toll from the blitz has risen to 47, including 17 children.
Despite being a crucial demand from the PIJ for the ongoing ceasefire, Israeli officials say the have “no intentions” of releasing Al-Saadi early, extending his detention until at least 16 August.
Egyptian mediators promised the PIJ they could secure Al-Saadi and another prisoner’s release before the truce was implemented, however, on Wednesday Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said he was “not familiar with a promise to release terrorists.”
“I don’t want to simply promise they won’t be released. We don’t hold people in prison for nothing,” Gantz added during an interview with Channel 12.
A delegation of senior Egyptian officials will arrive in Israel next week to discuss the prisoners’ release, in hopes of preventing another violent escalation, according to the resistance movement’s official Telegram channel.
The ceasefire began late on Sunday, after Israel destroyed dozens of residential buildings in Gaza and PIJ forces fired over a thousand missiles into the occupied territories.
In his first public comment after the airstrikes stopped, interim Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said that “the State of Israel will not apologize” for dozens of civilian deaths, and claimed that in “the entire operation, a special effort was made to prevent harm to non-involved civilians.”
According to an Israeli journalist, the brutal operation in Gaza was launched in part due to the upcoming elections, as Lapid felt the need to “prove himself.”
“He wants to show that he’s a macho like all former prime ministers,” Gideon Levy said.