Ex-prison guard: I’m at ‘war for my name’ after revealing abuse by terror convict

‘Hila’ passes polygraph test over her account of rape by security prisoner at Gilboa Prison, accuses senior officials in prison service of spreading rumors to undermine her story

Screen capture from video of a former IDF soldier who alleged she was raped by a security prison when she was serving as a guard at the Gilboa Prison, seen during an interview with Channel 12, August 8, 2022. (Channel 12)
Screen capture from video of a former IDF soldier who alleged she was raped by a security prison when she was serving as a guard at the Gilboa Prison, seen during an interview with Channel 12, August 8, 2022. (Channel 12)

A former IDF soldier said in an interview on Monday that she has been defending herself against rumors and lies after she came forward in July with claims that she was repeatedly raped and sexually abused by a Palestinian terror inmate while serving at the Gilboa Prison.

The anonymous woman, identifying under the pseudonym Hila, voluntarily undertook a polygraph test on Friday in which she was questioned on the validity of a written account of her experience at the prison, and was found to be telling the truth according to the procedure.

Hila’s accusation roiled the Israel Prison Service and has been followed by further claims of sexual assault by other former soldiers who served in the jail.

The allegations have included claims that prison administrators were either complicit or ignored the incidents.

Hila told the Ynet news site on Monday that she was fighting a “war for my name” against rumors about her and accusations that she had lied: “I even heard that I was pregnant and that I have a child in the world from the terrorist.”

“All these lies are simply designed to blur the serious crimes that were committed against me and the rest of my colleagues in this scandal,” she said. She added that she believes that senior figures in the prison service who have an “interest” in delegitimizing the claims are fueling rumors.

A prison guard is seen in a watchtower at Gilboa prison, in northern Israel, September 6, 2021. (Flash90)

“The story is not only about the terrorist and the jailers. The story is more complicated and bigger. Who allowed him for more than four years to touch, attack, and rape his guards?” Hila argued.

After her polygraph, Hila requested a meeting with State Prosecutor Amit Isman through her attorney Keren Barak.

“I want a meeting with him so that he can hear from me what it’s like for a soldier in Israel to be pimped out, what it’s like for a soldier whose officer pimps her and her friends,” she said.

Last week, Hila confronted the terror convict, referred to in Hebrew media by the initial Ayin, under police observation, accusing him of rape and urging him to reveal who among the prison staff was complicit in the acts. The inmate in turn claimed she was making up the rape accusation.

The interview between the two was held at the headquarters of Israel Police’s Lahav 433 serious crime unit.

Last month the Ynet news site reported that a Palestinian prisoner convicted of terrorism, Mahmoud Atallah, was being investigated by police over sexual assault while behind bars.

Palestinian security prisoner Mahmoud Atallah is accused of sexually assaulting and raping female IDF soldiers and guards at Gilboa Prison, in a scandal that alleges the wardens were ‘pimped’ out to Palestinian inmates. (Courtesy)

Allegations that guards at Gilboa “pimped out” female IDF soldiers serving in the prison to Palestinian terror convicts have circulated since 2018. The case largely disappeared from the public eye after little evidence was found.

But last year the allegations returned to the forefront following bombshell remarks from Gilboa Prison warden Freddy Ben Shitrit. In November, Ben Shitrit — who was not at the prison when the incidents allegedly took place — said female soldiers who were guards at the prison had been pressed into serving as eye candy or worse for some inmates, as a means of keeping prisoners from getting out of hand.

Ben Shitrit made the claims during testimony before a commission of inquiry probing last September’s prison break by Palestinian terror convicts, which highlighted a series of shortcomings in the prison’s operations and sparked harsh criticism of the Prison Service.

Attention to the issue grew last month after Hila came forward with her story.

She made her allegations in a post on the crowdfunding site BeActive, where her attorney Barak set up a campaign to support her. In the post, said she was “handed over” by her commander to a dangerous terrorist “so that he could hurt me and sexually abuse me again and again,” and added that other female guards had suffered the same fate.

In her statement, Hila described four incidents of rape by the prisoner, Ayin. During the first occurrence, Hila wrote, she didn’t respond, while during the second she cried “no” several times.

“In the third incident, when the prisoner inserted his fingers into my genitals, I cried to him but he continued with his act. In the fourth incident, he spun me around and pulled down his pants and my pants, and during the rape, I told him that I was in pain while I was crying, and he continued his actions,” she said.

Hila claimed that the prisoner wielded great influence on prison life, apparently ensuring quiet among other prisoners in exchange for favors from administrators.

The renewed allegations led to a fiery Knesset hearing earlier in August on the issue, and promises from government and prison officials to fully investigate the claims and make those who are responsible pay for their actions.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said earlier in the month that he had ordered the reevaluation of a years-long agreement allowing IDF conscripts to be drafted to the Israel Prisons Service, but Public Security Minister Omer Barlev replied that such a change would require new legislation.

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