Prison commander fired over inmate cellphone smuggling

Prison commander fired over inmate cellphone smuggling

Security prisoner crawled through air ducts to access perimeter compound and pick up bags thrown over wall by accomplices

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Inmates walking at the Eshel prison in Beersheba, June 22 2010. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
Inmates walking at the Eshel prison in Beersheba, June 22 2010. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

The commander of the Eshel prison and another senior officer were removed from their posts over a cellphone smuggling attempt in which a Palestinian security prisoner escaped from his wing by crawling through an air-conditioning duct.

The prison commander, holding the rank of junior commissioner, and a chief superintendent in charge of operations at the prison were relieved of their duties by Prisons Service head Commissioner Ofrah Klinger, Channel 2 television reported Sunday.

The decision to punish the officers came at the conclusion of an investigation ordered by Klinger following the incident, which took place last month.

According to the report, a security prisoner used an air-conditioning duct to leave his wing and gain access to a compound that was close to the outer walls of the prison, which is located near Beersheba. Guards noticed that the prisoner, who is affiliated with Hamas, was in a prohibited area and closed in to capture him.

A search of the area and on the prisoner’s person revealed several packages containing the cellphones and cellphone parts, among other items, which had been thrown over the fence, apparently during the night.

The Prisons Service upped the number of security staff guarding the area and carried out a search of the Hamas section of the prison.

In August, some 260 Hamas prisoners went on a short-lived hunger strike at the Eshel and Nafha prisons after the Prisons Service launched a major search operation in their cells to find contraband items, Haaretz reported at the time. The prisoners, who were moved from their prison cells to other facilities around the country during the search ended their strike after two days following an agreement with prison authorities.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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