Prison officer fired over claims he ‘pimped’ female guards to Palestinian inmates

Public security minister approves dismissal of intelligence officer Rani Basha, citing his ‘inadequacy to continue service’

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Public Security Minister Omer Barlev (center) and Israel Prisons Service chief commissioner Katy Perry (left) visit Ketziot prison in southern Israel, on September 9, 2021. (Israel Prisons Service)
Public Security Minister Omer Barlev (center) and Israel Prisons Service chief commissioner Katy Perry (left) visit Ketziot prison in southern Israel, on September 9, 2021. (Israel Prisons Service)

Public Security Minister Omer Barlev on Tuesday approved the firing of a prison officer over claims he “pimped” female guards at Gilboa Prison to Palestinian terror inmates several years ago to keep the prisoners happy.

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.

In December, Israel Prisons Service chief Katy Perry initiated proceedings to oust the intelligence officer at the prison, Rani Basha, who had been implicated in the case. State prosecutors also ordered police to reopen the probe.

“In light of the circumstances of the case, the nature of the acts to which the officer admitted, and the existing [evidence] against him at the criminal level, I would like to approve your decision to dismiss Basha, due to a serious violation of his duties as a prison guard, and due to his inadequacy to continue service in the organization,” Barlev ,who oversees police and the IPS, wrote in a letter to Perry, first published by the Ynet news site.

He added that the decision was made in part “to prevent serious damage to the public’s trust in the [IPS].”

Basha had been on leave since November when Freddy Ben Shitrit, the warden of the prison in northern Israel, made bombshell remarks regarding the allegations.

The decision to reopen the probe into the claims also came after 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.

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)

One of the soldiers told the Walla news site that she and other guards had been sexually assaulted by an imprisoned Palestinian terrorist named Mahmoud Atallah.

The female soldier who came forward said that 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.

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.

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

Those reports alleged that the intelligence officer, Basha, 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.

In an interview with Channel 12 last year, Basha 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.

In October, the Israel Defense Forces and Defense Ministry established a special team to examine the service conditions of conscripts recruited to units outside of the military to ensure they are appropriate. Last month, its findings and recommendations were presented to the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

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