Ofra Klinger sworn in as new head of the Israel Prison Service

Netanyahu says appointment sends message that “the best rise highest."

November 23, 2015 16:07
2 minute read.
Ofra Klinger



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Chief Commissioner Ofra Klinger was sworn in Monday as the commissioner of the Prisons Service in a ceremony at the Prime Minister’s Office.

Klinger, the second woman to head the service, will be tasked with repairing a security agency that has suffered a series of controversies in recent years.

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The Prisons Service is also responsible for guarding thousands of Palestinian security prisoners.

During the swearing-in, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the Prisons Service as being an organization central to the fight against terrorism, while also playing an important social role in rehabilitating people who have been incarcerated.

Netanyahu added that her appointment sends a message that “the best rise highest.”

Speaking at the ceremony, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan also emphasized the security role the agency plays, but said “our greatest test is the four out of 10 prisoners who return to prison after their release. If we are able to make incarceration a form of rehabilitation and give them the tools to return to society, then we can rise to the challenge.”

Klinger’s swearing-in came a week after a contract killer serving a life sentence for a double murder escaped from Prisons Service custody at a hospital in the center of the country, vanishing without a trace for several hours. Though Yaron Sankar was found later that night in Beersheba and arrested without incident, the escape was the latest in a long line of controversies in recent years.

These include a get-refuser who escaped from a rabbinical court in Jerusalem in 2013 and also a prisoner who snatched a pistol from a prison guard and tied him and another guard up before fleeing a hospital in Kfar Saba that same year. There was also the incident in February 2014 in which Samuel Sheinbein, an American- Israeli who fled to Israel in 1997 to escape charges for murdering a classmate, managed to smuggle a pistol into Hadarim Prison and open fire on guards before he was gunned down.

The incident happened not long after he had been arrested on a furlough after he called a man in Ramle who was selling a used firearm and tried and failed to steal it from him.

The agency is also still dealing with the lingering trauma of the deaths of dozens of cadets who perished in the 2010 Carmel fire, when their bus was trapped in flames while on their way to evacuate a security prison in the North.

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