Israel’s prime minister vows probe into ‘sex slave’ prison case

JERUSALEM: Israel’s premier promised an investigation Sunday (Jul 31) into allegations by a female former guard at a maximum security prison that she was repeatedly raped by a Palestinian inmate after being forced to work as a “sex slave” by her superiors.

Reports that female guards had been abused by inmates at Gilboa prison have circulated in Israeli media for several years.

But management of the prison came under fresh scrutiny in September last year, when six Palestinian prisoners broke out of Gilboa by tunnelling out of their cells through the drainage system, an escape that captured global headlines.

The past year has seen a series of revelations regarding what some Israeli media call the Gilboa “Pimping Affair”, a reference to widespread reports that male supervisors ordered female guards into situations where they were vulnerable to assault by inmates.

But last week a woman who identified herself as a former Gilboa guard, and who remained anonymous, posted testimony online saying that she was repeatedly raped by a Palestinian prisoner.

She said she was “handed over” to him by her superiors and became his “private sex slave”.

“I didn’t want to be raped, to be violated again and again,” she said.

The woman’s lawyer, Keren Barak, subsequently affirmed the anonymous testimony on Israel’s Channel 12 at the weekend, saying her client needed mental health support following the ordeal.

Reacting to the developments, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid told his cabinet on Sunday: “It cannot be (tolerated) that a soldier is raped by a terrorist during her service.”

“It must – and will be – investigated. We will make certain that the soldier receives assistance,” Lapid said.

In a separate statement on Sunday, Internal Security Minister Omer Barlev said, the “affair that happened a few years ago in Gilboa prison,” had “shaken the Israeli public.”

“I read the testimonies that are published and I am simply shocked,” Barlev said.

Lapid said aspects of the case were under a gag order, but that he was holding discussions with Israel Prison Service (IPS) Commissioner Katy Perry “to ensure that such an incident never happens again”.

Gilboa prison, in northern Israel, is where Israel holds a number of Palestinians convicted of involvement in attacks against Israelis.