Limor Livnat
Limor LivnatEhud Amiton/TPS

Former Likud minister Limor Livnat has sharply criticized the policy failures that led, in her opinion, to the prison break by six Arab terrorists from the Gilboa prison. The escapees have yet to be apprehended.

“Everyone is asking himself how something like this could happen,” Livnat writes in an article published in Yediot Aharonot. “For years, people have been warning that the conditions security prisoners are kept in are far, far too good, but nothing has ever been done about it.”

“We have all seen media images of imprisoned terrorists in which they openly mock us as they sit around tables laden with all manner of sumptuous dishes, watching satellite television and speaking on forbidden cell phones that were smuggled in to them. By now, everyone knows that the system that was installed in order to block cell phone reception was never activated. Neither did anyone ever do anything to address allegations of sexual harassment against the wardens the prisoners ordered to be brought in to serve them their meals. In short, it wasn’t just the prison guards in the watchtower who fell asleep and let the prisoners escape literally under their noses – the entire establishment fell asleep at the wheel.”

Livnat points out that, “It’s all too easy to demand the Prisons Service Commissioner’s head on a platter (figuratively speaking) – but he only took up his position ten months ago. There’s no doubt that a whole series of failures in the way our prisons are run contributed to what happened here, and this must be thoroughly investigated in order to make sure more prisoners don’t escape – and in order to punish those responsible. This investigation should be conducted as swiftly and effectively as possible and the necessary conclusions should be drawn.”

“All the same, we also have to lay the blame at the doorsteps of those who promoted irresponsible policies that permitted terrorists to continue to control gangs of criminals from behind the prison walls and even to organize terrorist attacks while behind bars, making use of their ability to communicate with the outside world, and also by terrorizing prison staff. The responsibility for this situation rests on the political echelon and on it alone, and such has been the case for years. And they deliberately chose such a policy in order to buy themselves (temporary) peace and quiet, at the cost of handing out masses of privileges to security prisoners.”

According to Livnat, the current government is uniquely placed to be able to remedy the situation.

“Prime Minister Bennett must now assemble his security cabinet and make a firm decision to cancel – immediately – all the privileges enjoyed by security prisoners in Israeli prisons,” she writes.

“All their special rights should be taken away, from cell phones and television, to allowing them to have special food brought in instead of being restricted to the regular prison diet, to providing them with a university education, and every other privilege they receive too. And more. The government and the Finance Minister must also ensure that the Prisons Service and the police are provided with the necessary budgets to enable them to use all the available tools to deal with all the issues that will be raised as a result of what has happened here, in order to make sure that we all have a good new year.”