Gilboa Prison pimping affair: Knesset rejects investigation proposal

The proposal, which would designate discussions to establish a state inquiry committee into the pimping affair, fell 46-41 in the Knesset plenum.

 Knesset plenum right before the vote commenced to pass a law to create a state commissioner's inquiry into the Gilboa Prison pimping affair, December 8, 2021.  (photo credit: Courtesy)
Knesset plenum right before the vote commenced to pass a law to create a state commissioner's inquiry into the Gilboa Prison pimping affair, December 8, 2021.
(photo credit: Courtesy)

A proposal to discuss the establishment of a state inquiry committee into the Gilboa Prison pimping affair fell 46-41 in the Knesset plenum on Wednesday evening. 

Two weeks ago, Gilboa Prison warden Freddy Ben Shitrit alleged that female guards were pimped out to Palestinian prisoners to satisfy them sexually. Ben Shitrit was not a warden during the time of the alleged attacks. Several prison guards came forward over the matter, the fourth of whom did so today

The allegations came out during the testimony he gave regarding the escape of six Palestinian prisoners in September. Following Ben Shitrit's testimony, Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev wrote to Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit recommending that the case be reopened. The Israel Prison Service (IPS) followed up with a similar request. 

"The members of the coalition took advantage of the support they have from the Joint List to worm their way out of the vote and the need that would follow to explain their position to the public," said Religious Zionist Party MK Ofir Sofer, who put forward the proposal in the Knesset. According to KAN, coalition MKs did not support the vote due to Bar Lev's position. 

Although the sexual incidents were first reported by Walla journalist Liran Levi in 2018, senior prison staff had not testified about it until last month.  

 Gilboa prison commander, Gondar Deputy Chief Freddy Ben Sheetrit arrives for his testimony at the government inspection committee for the incident of the escape of the security prisoners from the Gilboa prison, in Modi'in, November 24, 2021. (credit: FLASH90) Gilboa prison commander, Gondar Deputy Chief Freddy Ben Sheetrit arrives for his testimony at the government inspection committee for the incident of the escape of the security prisoners from the Gilboa prison, in Modi'in, November 24, 2021. (credit: FLASH90)

"How can you - the women of the coalition - look at these female prison guards in the eyes? Shame!" tweeted Likud MK Keti Shitrit.

Since Ben Shitrit wasn't on the prison staff at the time of the incidents, his testimony is considered hearsay, meaning he did not personally observe the event. As such, police would recommend against reopening the investigation. 

"The horrifying and shocking details revealed in the reports that portray a sickening relationship between IPS officials and imprisoned terrorists require an urgent investigation of the entire system," reads the parliamentary reasoning for the proposal.

"I am sorry to say that today showed that Bar Lev is a slave to the prosecution and the Israel Prison Service by stopping his coalition friends from voting for the establishment of the inquiry," said Sofer after the proposal fell.

Bar Lev had suggested pushing off the vote another month until an investigation into the matter by the prosecution and the Knesset's public security committee.

Sources close to the matter have suggested that the pimping affair has damaged the state's investigation into the prisoner escape because of the criticism directed at the warden, at prison intelligence and at other prison officials.