A police unit that investigates complaints against prison guards announced on Thursday that it was renewing the investigation into the Gilboa Affair case following prison warden Freddy Ben Sheetrit’s allegation on Wednesday that female guards were reportedly pimped out to Palestinian prisoners at Gilboa Prison in order to satisfy their sexual needs.
The decision was made after Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev addressed a letter to Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, recommending that the case be reopened after the government committee examining the escape of six prisoners earlier this year announced that it will not be investigating the incident further.
Following Bar Lev, the Israel Prison Service (IPS) appealed to the state attorney requesting the matter be investigated, Israeli media reported.
"We cannot ignore such statements, made by a senior officer," said the IPS legal advisor, "We ask that these statements be investigated by the approved interrogation and prosecution functions."
Ben Sheetrit, who was not the warden when the alleged incidents occurred, made the admission during his testimony regarding the escape of six Palestinian security prisoners from Gilboa on September 6.
Although the sexual incidents were first reported in the media three years ago, senior prison staff had not testified about it until Wednesday.
“I was a security guard [at Gilboa Prison] and I would hate working there,” read an anonymous testimony shared at the time by one of the guards. “I would say that the men harassed and harassed me. Now, he would always walk by me as if he was touching me, but by mistake. Now, the first time I said ‘OK, something like this can happen by mistake.’ But a second time and a third time and a fourth time? What is going on? What is happening? And when I would go and report them, they would say, ‘Don’t pay him any attention, he’s just stupid, he’s all over the place.’”
The prisoner accused of sexually assaulting three female prison guards in the above incident was Fatah prisoner Muhammad Atallah, who stood trial for sexual assault in March of this year.
Ahead of the trial’s opening, it was reported by Walla that the Northern District Attorney’s Office had approached one of the women who filed a complaint and asked her to “give up the testimony in court and reach a plea deal with the terrorist.”
Atallah was accused of requesting specific female prison guards to be placed in his wing of Gilboa Prison, after which he would assault them, engaging in sexual acts with them against their will.
BUT THE case against intelligence officer Rani Basha for his involvement in the affair – he was stationed at Gilboa Prison at the time – was closed for lack of evidence shortly after being opened.
“They put us there on purpose,” the accuser said at the time. “They would even put us in the wing with Hamas on purpose.... I entered the Hamas wing and a prisoner in a wheelchair asked the jailer who was with me, ‘Why do you only bring her... every hour? She should come here every 15 minutes.’ I went and reported it, they put me there on purpose.”
During his testimony on Wednesday, Ben Sheetrit admitted that “a serious and groundbreaking incident at Gilboa Prison, that lit a fire under my feet, was the prison guard incident.” He said that “compulsory female soldiers were provided to terrorists for sexual purposes.”
Liran Levi, who originally reported the story, named Ambassador the UN Gilad Erdan as having “helped the Prison Service whitewash and silence the pimping of the guards out of fear that the story would spread,” during his time as public security minister, although Ben Sheetrit did not mention him in his testimony.
אגב, מי שסייע לשב"ס לטייח ולהשתיק את סרסור הסוהרות בכלא גלבוע, מחשש שהסיפור הזה ידבק בו הוא כבוד שר הבט"פ לשעבר @giladerdan1 ארדן גם לא טרח להגיע לוועדות בכנסת שיזמו @Syechimovich ו @YoavKisch עוד בימי כהונתו שב"ס החזיר את קצין המודיעין לעבודה. תודה לך כבוד השר— לירן לוי Liran Levi (@liran__levi) November 24, 2021
Likud MKs Keti Shitrit and Tzachi Hanegbi asked Bar Lev what his office is doing about the matter and how it will operate so that such cases do not recur in the future.
Hagit Farr, Chairperson of the Na’amat Movement of Working Women & Volunteers penned a letter to Israel Police Chief Kobi Shabtai demanding that he “reopen the investigation of serious allegations, according to which security prisoners sexually harassed a prison guard at Gilboa with the knowledge and participation of the Israeli Prison Service staff.”
Additionally, Knesset members including Religious Zionist Party MK Ofir Sofer have submitted a formal request to Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy to establish an inquiry committee into the “overall conduct of the Israeli Prison Service and its commanders on this matter.”
Knesset Public Security Committee chairwoman MK Merav Ben-Ari announced she would hold a discussion on Wednesday about the allegations.
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.