Tzipi Livni at the President's residence 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
There are no unknown prisoners in Israel, Public Security Minister Yitzhak
Aharonovitch and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni reassured the public on
Aharonovitch said the government “does not conduct itself in
“The State of Israel has supervision and a judicial process,”
Aharonovitch told the Knesset.
“We are careful to keep the law and the
process, along with concern for our security. That concern sometimes requires us
to act with great secrecy.”
Aharonovitch repeated himself: “Indeed, there
are no anonymous prisoners whose families do not know about their arrest. There
are no prisoners that the judicial authorities do not take care of. Information
about every prisoner’s arrest is sent to the relevant office and dealt with by
the courts, all according to law.”
At the same time, the public security
minister explained, not every case can be publicized in order to avoid harm to
national security, and the courts put a gag order on such cases.
prisoners are held under a fake name, but they still have all of their rights
and are not considered “invisible” by the courts, he added.
Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On accused Aharonovitch of lying to the Knesset and the
public about “Prisoner X” Ben Zygier in February, when he said there are no
In the plenum Wednesday, Aharonovitch said he cannot
give more details about the second “Prisoner X,” whose existence was revealed in
court documents Tuesday, but explained that nothing about his case contradicts
what he said in February.
“I suggest the public stop speculating on the
topic,” he concluded.
Livni also said Wednesday that “it is important for
Israeli citizens to know that there are no invisible prisoners sent to jail
without a trial, without legal defense and without their families
“It is possible that there are prisoners with a gag order on
their case and the reasons for their arrest if national security or other lives
are in danger,” she told Army Radio. “Gag orders are meant to prevent damage. We
live in a reality where the reason could be publicized abroad, but it’s worth
the effort to try to prevent it in advance, if it could cause great
Still, Livni insisted that “the [Israeli Security Agency (Shin
Bet)] doesn’t capture people on the street and make them disappear,” and that as
a cabinet member and Justice Minister she never heard of such a case
“I can say with full confidence that we’re not South America,”
Earlier Wednesday, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense
Committee chairman Avigdor Liberman said “despite all of the text and nonsense I
hear about a prisoner X, Y, and Z, you should know that Israel respects the law
and all of these cases are under double supervision by the legal system and the
parliament, under a Foreign Affairs and Defense subcommittee.”
Yisrael Beytenu leader added that the government “protects all [civil] rights,
according to law.”
“We respect the rights of each and every person. We
insist on being uncompromising [about rights], even though this is a
particularly serious case,” he concluded.
According to court documents
cleared for publication on Tuesday, a second anonymous security prisoner was
held secretly at the Ayalon Prison at the same time that former Mossad employee
Ben Zygier took his own life in the facility’s high-security cell 15.
protocol of an October 2011 hearing in the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court
examining the death of Zygier – whom Israeli media have nicknamed “Prisoner X” –
reads: “It is worth noting that there are specific, detailed guidelines that
were used for the previous resident of Block 15 [Yitzhak Rabin assassin Yigal
Amir] and for a separate prisoner jailed in Block 13 [a security
According to the protocol, the latter prisoner’s attributes “more
closely resemble those of the one in cell 15 [Zygier].”
details about the man’s identity or his alleged crimes were released for
Ben Hartman contributed to this report.