Photo Credit: Flash90
Gilboa prison commander Freddy Ben Sheetrit testified before the committee investigating the 6 prisoners' escape, November 24, 2021.

Senior Israel Prison Service officials on Wednesday told Haaretz that the first complaint that was filed by a Gilboa Prison guard who was sexually assaulted by a terrorist prisoner was “disappeared by the prison commanders” who prevented an investigation of the complaint (בכירים בשב”ס: מפקדי כלא גלבוע גנזו את תלונת הסוהרת שהותקפה מינית בידי אסיר).

The assaults, which took place from 2015 to 2017, returned to the Israeli public attention on Wednesday, when the current Gilboa Prison commander Freddie Ben Sheetrit called it “pimping out compulsory female soldier guards” (Gilboa Prison Commander Confirms: Female Soldiers Were Offered to Terrorist Prisoners).


Speaking before the committee investigating the escape of six terrorist inmates from Gilboa Prison, Sheetrit referred to the intelligence officer at the prison at the time, who assigned female guards to work in the security wing of the prison at the request of the inmate who then sexually assaulted them. The case against the intelligence officer, Ghani Basha, was closed.

According to knowledgeable sources in the IPS, the female guard filed an internal complaint with the prison warden, Bassam Kashkush, against security prisoner Mahmoud Atallah, who was the spokesman for the Fatah Prisoners at the time.

One of the female guards who were assaulted by Atallah stated in her complaint that in November 2017, the prisoner demanded from Ghani Basha, the intelligence officer of the Gilboa Prison at the time, that he send him the “pretty warden.” Basha said in his interrogations that he complied with Atallah’s demands, among other things in light of the pressure exerted on him to bring intelligence from Fatah prisoners. He claimed he did not know the inmate intended to sexually assault her. According to her complaining female guard, Atallah told her: “I told you that you were going to work for me.”

In her complaint, the guard said Atallah sexually assaulted her. According to the sources cited by Haaretz, the warden did not investigate the internal complaint and concealed it when the IPS began investigating the case. A senior IPS official said the complaint had been covered up by prison commanders “to maintain industrial peace with the inmates and protect the intelligence officer.” The same sources said the intelligence officer admitted in his interrogations that he transferred the female guard to the security wing after Atallah mentioned her name to him, but vehemently denied that he pimped her out.

Police opened an investigation in 2018 after the female guard told the intelligence officer of the IPS Northern District about the case, but, according to the sources inside the IPS, when it became clear that there was no documentation of the complaint, which had been disappeared, the police stopped its investigation. Then, in 2017, when Channel 20 asked for a comment from the IPS about the complaint, the national prison guard investigation unit reopened the case. Still, the Gilboa prison intelligence officer was not prosecuted, and he resumed working for the Prisons Service after the criminal case against him had been closed.

The prisoner, Atallah, was prosecuted for assaulting three female guards while they were escorting him between different wings of the facility. According to the indictment filed against him in the Magistrate’s Court in Nazareth in July 2020, Atallah’s indecent acts included caresses, physical touching, and lurid speech.

The female guard reported that immediately after she filed her complaint against intelligence officer Ghani Basha, life in Gilboa prison became a nightmare. She was removed from her regular assignment and was ordered to do cleaning work instead until things became too unbearable and she left.

Here’s an interesting point: according to Haaretz, Atallah, who is serving a life sentence plus 15 years for the murder of an Arab collaborator with Israel, was shunned by his fellow Fatah prisoners who found out he had been assaulting female guards, and Fatah refused to provide him with a legal defense. The prison assessed that his life was in danger and transferred him to solitary confinement for fear that his fellow prisoners would harm him—and to keep him away from the female guards.

“He committed an act that is a taboo among the security prisoners,” a source familiar with the details of the IPS affair told Haaretz. “No one wanted to talk to him or approach him, and they even wanted to hurt him.”

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