MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) said Wednesday that three years ago he sent a letter to the Attorney-General concerning reports of a secret prisoner, saying that such a scenario was illegal.
Speaking at the Knesset plenum, a day after a report of a mysterious prisoner who committed suicide in an Israeli jail swept the media, Horowitz said he was assured in 2010 that the situation was under control.
According to details that have recently come to light, it emerged that the prisoner died several months later. "Does this not indicate a basic failure in the law enforcement system?" Horowitz asked. "Sweeping everything into a deep and even draconian secrecy, has no place in democratic regimes," he added.
Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On also questioned, "how can Israel in the 21st century put people in jail who die there without the public or elected officials knowing?"
Interior Minister Eli Yishai responded to the comments saying that no country is as democratic as Israel. "We are democratic in all areas, and I'm proud of it," he stated.
Earlier Wednesday Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman accused several MKs of trying to harm Israel's security, in response to the censored prisoner affair.
In an interview with Army Radio, Liberman lashed out at Hadash MK Dov Henin, Gal-On and MK Ahmed Tibi
(United Arab List-Ta’al) who blew the cover of the affair in a Knesset session on Tuesday.
"From what I understand, there was once again an attempt to harm the state's security." Liberman told Army Radio. "These people try again and again to harm [Israel] and to justify the enemy. They also identify with the enemy during wartime."
On Tuesday, MKs told Justice
Minister Yaakov Neeman that the citizens of Israel would soon learn information on a sensitive anonymous
prisoner case that the government has kept under wraps.
“An article was published that an
Australian prisoner committed suicide under a different identity. Do you know
about the situation? Do you confirm that it occurred?” asked Tibi
(United Arab List-Ta’al), in reference to a report from earlier in the day by
Australia’s ABC News.
“Are there people in prisons whose incarceration is
kept secret? What are the supervision mechanisms on this kind of imprisonment?”
demanded Henin. “What are the possibilities for parliamentary
supervision on such incarcerations? How can the public be critical in this
situation?” Gal-On told Neeman, “I want to hear your stance on
the fact that journalists volunteer to censor information at the government’s
Referring to the informal forum that includes the heads of the
country’s Hebrew press outlets and The Jerusalem Post, she asked, “Is it proper
that the Prime Minister’s Office invited the Editors’ Committee to prevent news
from being publicized? Today, we hear that in a country that claims to be a
civilized democracy, journalists cooperate with the government, and that
anonymous prisoners, who no one knew existed, commit suicide.”
questions came during Neeman’s final speech as justice minister.
responded that prisons were not under his authority, and that the MKs should ask
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch their questions.
that he did not know if the reports were accurate, and that they should be
Labor MK Nachman Shai criticized the very existence of a
“The prime minister forgot that in 2013, the media does not
accept his dictates and does not act according to national consensus as in the
past,” he stated. “It would be better to present the public with the truth,
within security restrictions, and share it with them.”
Shai plans to
propose a bill limiting the possibility of censorship, calling the wide use of
the practice “ridiculous and upsetting.”
The Labor MK will demand that
the courts review censorship requests, and if their content is published in the
foreign press, Israeli media should be permitted to print them.
Lahav Harkov and Ben Hartman
contributed to this report.