IPS head testifies before Gilboa Prison break committee

The IPS head also claimed several figures within the prison service warned her of an "ineffective" security system at Gilboa.

 Katy Perry, head of the Israel Prison Service (photo credit: FLASH90)
Katy Perry, head of the Israel Prison Service
(photo credit: FLASH90)

Katy Perry, head of Israel Prison Service (IPS), testified on Wednesday before a committee investigating the Gilboa Prison escape and placed the responsibility on Gilboa Prison warden Freddy Ben Shitrit, Israeli media reported.

Perry also claimed several figures within IPS warned her of an "ineffective" security system at the prison, from which six Palestinian prisoners escaped on the night of September 6, 2021. "I requested to test the security system's efficiency and I announced no expenses will be spared," Perry testified.

"It is clear and obvious to not stick two prisoners who were considered to be of high risk of escaping in the same cell for nine months," Perry said in her testimony. "That is the prison warden's direct responsibility."

Perry attempted to fire Ben Shitrit in the immediate aftermath of the escape, according to a Haaretz report, but was told she cannot due to the police investigation of the incident being ongoing.

According to Perry, she agreed to purchase and fund a Jeep for the prison three months before the escape took place. "What we should ask is how the prison did not have a Jeep for over 40 years," she stated. "Is it expected of me, as IPS head, to hand out new Jeeps and security systems for every prison in Israel?" Perry lamented.

 Katy Perry, head of the Israel Prison Service arrives for her testimony on January 12, 2022 (credit: FLASH90) Katy Perry, head of the Israel Prison Service arrives for her testimony on January 12, 2022 (credit: FLASH90)

Perry also shared her experience of the night of the escape in detail. "I was made aware of the escape at 3:30 a.m., I immediately spoke to the Israel Police chief [Kobi Shabtai] and the Public Security Minister [Omer Bar Lev] to request aerial assistance," she told the committee.

The prisoners were able to escape from the prison due to being locked in a room above an underground cavity, which they learned of from the prison’s map that they found on the internet, in its architects’ website.

Referring to the underground weakness of the prison's security system, Perry said the "threat is still relevant to the IPS in relation to escapes and smuggling of contraband."

Perry ordered an inspection of the ground surrounding the prison. "I was not entirely satisfied with how the inspection was carried out, specifically because the prison inhabits a diverse group of inmates. In the last few days, I have instructed to block all underground open spaces with cement."

Ben Shitrit, who testified under oath before the committee in late November, alleged during the testimony that female guards at the Gilboa Prison were "pimped out" to Palestinian prisoners to satisfy them sexually.