A Palestinian security prisoner is suspected of raping a guard at Gilboa prison on at least three occasions in 2016, according to Hebrew media reports Sunday following the lifting of parts of a gag order on the case.
The unnamed woman, a female former soldier who had served as a prison guard, alleged last month that she was repeatedly raped by the prisoner, an accusation that has roiled the Israel Prison Service and has been followed by further claims of sexual assault by other former soldiers who served in the prison.
According to reports on Sunday, the guard told investigators that her commanders left her alone in the security wing of the prison while the prisoners were walking free in the courtyard — against prison regulations. She also reportedly said that the security prisoner who raped her threatened her life if she told anybody what happened.
Allegations that guards at Gilboa “pimped out” female IDF soldiers serving in the prison to Palestinian terror convicts have circulated since 2018. The case largely disappeared from the public eye after little evidence was found.
But last year the allegations returned to the forefront following bombshell remarks from Gilboa Prison warden Freddy Ben Shitrit. In November, 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.
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Gilboa prison commander, 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)
Ben Shitrit made the claims during testimony before a commission of inquiry probing last September’s prison break by Palestinian terror convicts, which highlighted a series of shortcomings in the prison’s operations and sparked harsh criticism of the Prison Service.
Attention to the issue grew last month after a former soldier who served in the prison came forward with her story.
The anonymous woman, using the pseudonym “Hila,” made her allegations in a post on crowdfunding site BeActive, where her attorney Keren Barak set up a campaign to support her. “Hila” said she was “handed over” by her commander to a dangerous terrorist “so that he could hurt me and sexually abuse me again and again,” and added that other female guards had suffered the same fate.
The renewed allegations led to a fiery Knesset hearing last week on the issue, and promises from government and prison officials to fully investigate the claims and make those responsible pay for their actions.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz said last week that he had ordered the reevaluation of a years-long agreement allowing IDF conscripts to be drafted to the Israel Prisons Service, but Public Security Minister Omer Barlev replied that such a change would require new legislation.