Public Security Minister Omer Barlev
Public Security Minister Omer BarlevYonatan Sindel/Flash90

Amid the ongoing scandal concerning severe abuse that took place at the Gilboa maximum security prison in Israel some five years ago, attorney Keren Barak, who is representing the female soldiers who allege that they were abused at the hands of security prisoners, was interviewed by Galei Tzahal on Sunday.

"Everyone knew what was going on there; it was systematic abuse," Barak told her interviewer. "The soldier concerned alleges that she was raped a number of times, and this was the worst instance that we are investigating here. But in all the prisons, it was a known thing that the prisoners could select which female wardens were assigned to them."

Commenting on the precise form of wording used by the soldier, who said that she was forced to become a "sex slave," Barak said, "This was rape in the full sense of the word; the soldier was accurate in calling her situation that of a sex slave."

Speaking at Sunday's cabinet meeting, interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid noted that the incidents concerned were "subject to a gag order, but they must be investigated and they will be investigated. We will ensure that this soldier receives support and that such incidents never recur - and those responsible will pay the price."

Also speaking at the cabinet meeting was Public Security Minister Omer Barlev (Labor), who said that he did not understand why the issue was being discussed in the present tense, when the abuses allegedly took place five years ago. Responding, MK Penina Tamano-Shatta said that it was inexplicable why crimes committed so long ago had yet to be investigated.

Barlev was later interviewed on Reshet Bet, where he said that at this point in time, there is no point in establishing a state commission of inquiry into what took place at the Gilboa Prison. "Now that a police investigation is ongoing, any commission of inquiry is limited in its remit," he explained.

Barlev added that he did not understand why the Court had imposed a gag order on the details of the investigation. "True, the police investigation is ongoing, but I don't understand why the details cannot be published. It is not appropriate in such a case. Israeli citizens and most certainly the parents of girls serving in the Israel Prisons Service want to know what is going on and what the investigation uncovers."