A female prison guard who served in Gilboa prison as an IDF soldier on Thursday claimed that she was raped repeatedly by a security prisoner during her service there. In a crowdfunding page that was launched for her on the Beactive website, the soldier, pseudonym Yael, wrote: “Unfortunately for me, of all the prisons, I was placed in Gilboa prison. I discovered to my astonishment that there was one ‘commander,’ a Palestinian terrorist with blood on his hands, who controlled all the officers and staff who obeyed him and carried out his ‘orders’ without any argument. He walked freely around the prison when he was not handcuffed, and sent his dirty hands and touched the bodies of female soldiers without anyone’s intervention. Everyone knew. Everyone was silent. Everyone was afraid. Everyone ‘worked’ for him.”
On November 24, we reported (Gilboa Prison Commander Confirms: Female Soldiers Were Offered to Terrorist Prisoners) that Gilboa Prison Commander, Colonel Freddy Ben Sheetrit, testified before the government investigation committee into the escape of six terrorist prisoners from Gilboa Prison, and admitted for the first time that IDF female conscripts had been sent out to meet the needs of terrorists. The sordid episode was denied vehemently by the Israel Prisons Service in June 2018 when it had been revealed by Channel 20 correspondent Liran Levy.
“They pimped out the conscript female soldiers who served at the prison, to provide female soldiers to terrorists to satisfy their urges. This pimping out was a groundbreaking event,” Ben Sheetrit told the committee, stressing that this had happened before he took over the prison.
The next day, we reported that Senior Israel Prison Service officials revealed that the first complaint that had been 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 (Report: Prison Officials Buried Female Guard’s Complaint of Physical Assault by Terrorist Inmate).
Gilboa prison is home to both criminal and security prisoners, and Yael initially worked in one of the criminal wings. However, from time to time, guards are required to perform tasks in other wings, and this is how the security prisoner Muhammad Atallah, a lifer who used his sentence to capture the post of spokesman for the prisoners in the security wing, noticed Yael. From then on, when she was on assignment in his wing, Atallah would comment about his desire for her to work in his wing, or in his words “When are you coming to work for me?”
While Yael was carrying out tasks in Atallah’s wing, she was sexually harassed by him. Despite this, Yael’s shift commander asked her to move to work permanently in the security wing where this prisoner lived. Yael vehemently refused, told her shift commander about the sexual harassment she experienced in that wing, and filled out a Prison Service memorandum in order to file an official complaint, which was directed to the prison’s intelligence officer.
On the same day, her shift commander showed her a text message he received from the intelligence officer, in which he wanted to know, since Yael was refusing to work in the security wing, what other female guards he could schedule to work there.
The security prisoner was transferred to another prison the day after the complaint was submitted, but Yael found out, to her chagrin, that apart from this transfer, her complaint was not being addressed. Several months later, Yael received a notice from the prosecutor’s office that it intended to prosecute only the prisoner, but not the intelligence officer or other prison service employees. She understood from her conversation with the prosecutor that the evidence she had pointed to in her complaint was not examined at all, and therefore, in the opinion of the prosecutor’s office, there is not enough evidence to prosecute the intelligence officer.
The intelligence officer was summoned to a hearing with a letter saying, “The totality of your actions and behavior, detailed above, indicate that, apparently, you are no longer fit to serve in the Prison Service.”
However, the officer was not fired and only faced a disciplinary procedure. He was reprimanded and transferred to a different position in another prison, but still serves as an officer in the IPS.
Yael was left alone, a woman in her 20s who experienced not only blunt sexual harassment involving her superiors and those who were supposed to take care of her well-being but also her coworkers abandoning her, as did the system that was supposed to protect her. She did not receive the support of the organization she worked for, did not receive support from the media or the public, and had to face the significant difficulties that followed the exposure of her story on her own.
A social activist named Doron Shabtai initiated a crowdfunding website for Yael, which will allow her to receive the support she needs, legal, emotional, and financial.
We’re happy to report that the donations on Yael’s behalf exceeded her request. She asked for NIS 70,000 ($), but received from 692 donors NIS 87,098.
If you have some ma’aser money left this month – we couldn’t think of a better recipient.