Ben Gvir orders Prison Service to put an end to soldiers guarding terror convicts

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir issued an order on Wednesday to permanently stop the appointment of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers as prison guards for terrorist prisoners held in prison within a six-month deadline.

The move comes more than five months after then-Defense Secretary Benny Gantz ordered an inquiry Convicted terrorists attacked and raped female soldiers serving as prison guards following allegations of bombings at the system last August, and that some Israel Prison Service (IPS) guards used handcuffs to calm inmates. The recruits were “pulled out”.

In a statement on Wednesday, Ben Gvir said that IDF soldiers would no longer serve in the wing of high-security prisons where terrorist prisoners are held, but would continue to serve in the prison service at a “second level of security”, which included Maintenance is also included. building, with only limited interaction with the inmates.

Ben Gwir said the decision came in the wake of “a number of serious incidents of harm to male and female soldiers serving in the IPS”, which culminated in allegations of torturing female guards.

The minister said the IPS should be ready for such a change within six months and the soldiers should be replaced by “experienced and experienced prison guards”.

It is not immediately clear whether the prison service has enough trained staff to take such an immediate step.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir attends a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on January 3, 2023.

In August, Gantz issued a letter to then-Minister of Public Security Omar Barlev demanding that until the rape allegations were fully investigated, Palestinian terrorists be admitted to the same prison wing as convicts. Soldiers will not be allowed.

It was not immediately clear whether the soldiers serving in the prison security wing were reassigned from their posts.

The arrangement between the IDF and the IPS was established in 2005, when responsibility for operating prisons with security prisoners was transferred from the IDF to the IPS.

In December, a review panel was commissioned by Gantz and tasked with investigating the issue. Recommended The system should be abolished. But those recommendations suggested it was a gradual process that was unlikely to begin until 2026.

Several ex-servicemen working as prison guards made explosive claims of sexual assault and rape by security inmates, often in collusion with prison commanders. Last year, at least six women came forward to allege that women soldiers routinely “came outSecurity for misbehavior by prisoners at Gilboa Prison, a high-security detention facility in northern Israel.

“The current situation where the IPS relies on obtaining outside personnel from the IDF [for its work] Not ideal,” the panel members wrote.

A Knesset panel debates claims of sexual abuse at Gilboa Prison on August 3, 2022. (Jonathan Sindel/FLASH90)

The panel said it was impossible to cancel the existing agreement “in one fell swoop”, but should be done gradually starting from 2026.

“The team recommends extension of the existing arrangement, which ends on February 15, 2023, immediately after the formation of the new government, for at least three years,” he wrote.

Panel members further urged that the IDF and the Ministry of Defense act “urgently” to refine the list of positions assigned to soldiers in prisons.

The team recommended that soldiers should only be used to secure and escort prisoners, as prescribed in the rules governing their service in prisons. In addition, soldiers should be transferred out of the security wing of regular prisons, where fewer military personnel are present, and instead, be stationed in large security prisons with a higher number of soldiers on site.

It asked the IPS to prevent a situation where a male or female prison guard is left alone with security inmates or is not supervised.

“Action should also be taken to reduce interactions that result in direct contact between the jailer and the security prisoner,” the report said, adding that the IDF should also examine its selection procedures.

Gilboa prison in northern Israel on September 6, 2021. (Flash 90)

When the report was released shortly before the new government was to be sworn in in December, Gantz and Barlew ordered that preparations be made to implement the recommendations, but noted that the prisons had to use soldiers as guards. Necessary legislation will need to be enacted to expand the framework of the Addressed by the incoming Defense Minister.

Reports of sexual harassment and assault of female soldiers and prison officers in Israeli prisons surfaced several years ago, but were largely shelved until last year when the investigation was reopened following new allegations.

Last August, a former soldier who went by the pseudonym Hila came forward the allegations While she was serving in Gilboa Prison, she was repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted by a Palestinian security inmate.

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