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IDF to probe service conditions in nonmilitary units amid prison ‘pimping’ scandal

Team from army and Defense Ministry will look at recruitment process and conditions of conscripts serving outside the military, after claims female soldiers ‘pimped’ to inmates

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, left, and Defense Minister Benny Gantz attend a Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee meeting at the Knesset, on October 19, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, left, and Defense Minister Benny Gantz attend a Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee meeting at the Knesset, on October 19, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Israel Defense Forces and Defense Ministry will establish a special team to examine the service conditions of conscripts recruited to units outside of the military to ensure they are appropriate, the IDF said in a statement Wednesday.

The announcement came in the wake of recent claims that female prison guards were “pimped” to Palestinian terror inmates in order to keep the prisoners happy.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz and IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi agreed on establishing the special team, which will be led by the head of IDF Manpower Directorate Major General Yaniv Asor.

The team will include representatives from the IDF and the Defense Ministry to “examine the recruitment process, supervision and conditions of service of female and male soldiers serving outside IDF units,” the statement said.

The military said it decided to form the team due to the “broad responsibility that the IDF has to those who serve in the security services and the armed forces.”

The team will eventually present its conclusions and recommendations to promote appropriate and safe service conditions for all.

Last week Israel Police said it would reopen an investigation into the years-old allegations by female guards that they were “pimped,” in the wake of bombshell remarks about the issue made by Gilboa Prison warden Freddy Ben Shitrit during testimony before a commission of inquiry probing a recent prison break by Palestinian terror convicts.

Gilboa prison commander Freddy Ben Shitrit arrives to give testimony at following the escape of security prisoners from the prison, in Modi’in, November 24, 2021. (Flash90)

Ben Shitrit said in his testimony that prison employees had “pimped out female soldiers to fulfill some form of needs, not for professional nor for operational purposes.” He said it had been a “massive incident.”

Female soldiers first alleged in 2018 that they were forced into close contact with prisoners as sexual bargaining chips, leading to them being harassed and assaulted, but the case was closed due to a lack of evidence.

One of the soldiers who said she was sexually assaulted in the incident has told the Walla news site that she and other guards had been sexually assaulted by a Palestinian terrorist named Muhammad Atallah. The guards claimed the prison’s management knew about the abuse and covered it up until media reports by Channel 20 about the affair brought it to light in June 2018.

Those reports alleged that an intelligence officer had placed female guards in the facility’s security wing at the request of the terrorist.

Channel 12 News has reported three soldiers were involved in the case.

The female soldier who came forward said she had been ordered to accompany Atallah around the facility, which gave him opportunities to assault her, including by groping her buttocks, while her bosses turned a blind eye.

In exchange, Atallah, a powerful figure among the prisoner population, kept the facility quiet for the prison staff, according to Channel 13 News.

In an interview with Channel 12 news, aired Monday evening, the officer — who hasn’t been publicly identified — denied the allegations, saying they “aren’t true” and that the female soldiers had in fact been “agents” tasked — with their full consent — with extracting information from the inmates.

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