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Palestinian inmate suspected of assaulting guards unlikely to face rape charge

With no eyewitnesses or supporting testimonies by other guards and due to the alleged rape taking place in a room without cameras, prosecution struggles to gather enough evidence

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)
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)

A Palestinian security inmate suspected of raping and sexually harassing female guards at an Israeli prison will likely not be charged with rape, according to Hebrew media reports.

As the investigation into sexual offenses carried out by Palestinian security inmate Mahmoud Atallah against a soldier prison guard at Gilboa Prison nears its end, it appears unlikely that there will be enough evidence to charge him with rape, Channel 12 first reported on Thursday.

With no eyewitnesses or supporting testimonies by other guards at the prison, and because Atallah’s alleged assaults took place while with the victim in a room without any cameras, the prosecution is struggling to gather enough evidence for an indictment, the report said.

It was unclear whether Atallah will be charged with other sexual offenses carried out against other guards at the prison.

Atallah has been in solitary confinement since 2018, over the scandal in which intelligence officer Rani Basha allegedly “pimped” female guards to him and to other Palestinian inmates, at his request.

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

Gilboa Prison, February 28, 2013. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Later that month, a female former IDF soldier who had served as a prison guard at Gilboa Prison, alleged that she was repeatedly raped by a prisoner, later named as Atallah.

In an interview with the Ynet news site last month, the anonymous woman, identifying under the pseudonym Hila, described the assaults and said she had been waging a “war for my name” against rumors about her and accusations that she had lied.

“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.

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)

Reports of female soldiers and prison officers being sexually harassed and assaulted in Israeli prisons first surfaced in 2018, but then were largely dropped until last year when a probe was reopened following new allegations that emerged during an investigation into a prison break at Gilboa.

Last week, a transcript of Basha’s investigation from 2018 released by Channel 12 suggested the phenomenon may have started even earlier.

Asked by an interrogator how he could explain not addressing claims of sexual assault brought before him, Basha at the time that “The issue of sexual harassment didn’t start in one day, when I entered the position. It likely started earlier.”

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