Prison officer slams allegation he ‘pimped’ female guards to Palestinian inmates

After police reopen probe into Gilboa Prison events, officer says accusations are ‘invented and absurd,’ says soldiers were agents who consented to mission

The Gilboa prison in northern Israel on September 6, 2021. (Flash90)
The Gilboa prison in northern Israel on September 6, 2021. (Flash90)

A Prison Service intelligence officer came out strongly Monday against allegations that he had “pimped” out female soldiers to Palestinian terror inmates at Gilboa Prison in order to keep the prisoners happy, calling them “invented and absurd.”

The comments came days after the Israel Police said it would reopen an investigation into the years-old allegations, 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.

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.

Since Ben Shitrit — who was not at the prison when the incidents allegedly took place — gave his testimony, calls have grown for the case to be reopened. Ben Shitrit is expected to be summoned for questioning by police over his comments, Hebrew media reported.

In an interview with Channel 12 news, aired Monday evening, the officer — who hasn’t been publicly identified — attacked Ben Shitrit and accused him of trying to deflect attention from his failure to prevent the prison break.

“His advisers probably told him: ‘If you want to deflect it toward this affair, this is the time,” he told the network.

Gilboa prison commander, Gondar Deputy Chief Freddy Ben Shitrit, arrives for his testimony at the government inspection committee for the incident of the escape of the security prisoners from the Gilboa prison, in Modi’in, on November 25, 2021. (Flash90)

Denying the allegations against him, he said 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.

“We don’t do such a thing without consent. They are literally just agents,” he argued.

“The female prison guards who are complaining know I didn’t send any one of them to the [security] ward,” he said, adding that in one case, an offending terror convict was quickly transferred to another prison, Hadarim, for eight months.

“It’s shameful. Everything that has been said is nonsense,” he said, lamenting that he couldn’t publicly discuss all aspects of the case to avoid divulging classified details.

“My hands are tied. There are intelligence matters I can’t speak about,” he said, claiming that some officials were seeking to harm the prison service’s reputation by targeting him.

The officer was suspended after the allegations surfaced but has since returned to the prison service. He was summoned to a hearing ahead of his possible dismissal, but was not fired, Channel 12 reported Thursday.

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

The existing commission of inquiry looking into the escape of six terror convicts from Gilboa Prison said it would not investigate the claims surrounding the female soldiers.

“The panel of inquiry wishes to clarify that this subject… is not open for it to probe,” the head of the panel said in a statement. “We are relying on the relevant authorities to give their opinion on the matter.”

One of the soldiers who said she was sexually assaulted in the incident called for the investigation to be reopened.

The soldier, who was not identified by name, told Walla 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 the intelligence officer in placed female guards in the facility’s security wing at the request of the terrorist.

A prison guard who alleges her superiors used her ‘as a sexual object’ to help get information from a Palestinian security prisoner. (Screenshot/Channel 12)

Channel 12 said 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.

“They sent me on assignments I wasn’t supposed to do to be a sexual object in order to get intelligence,” one of the alleged victims told Channel 12. “One of the security prisoners acted however he wanted toward me. Insults, sexual offenses, verbal assaults. Every time I came for a shift I was depressed.”

She said she was used “as an object, as a pretty girl, as a tempting young woman. To just be a sexual object to get information out of them.”

“My commanders didn’t care about what I was feeling or experiencing,” she said.

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