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The director of a Hadera juvenile correctional facility was sentenced on Wednesday to 18 months for abusing and assaulting inmates.

The court heard that Gad Harari, 64, the founder of the Gadi correctional facility, shoved an inmate's head into a toilet bowl and flushed it. On another occasion, he made a group of boys to say Kaddish (the mourners' prayer) over a fellow inmate.

Harari is a highly regarded social worker, who was one of the founders of Eran, Israel's biggest crisis hotline. He has recently been awarded the Child Defender Award on behalf of the Prime Minister.

Harari was also convicted of taking an inmate to a nearby cemetery, where he threatened him that he would end up in the grave. He called another "a dirty drug addict" and told him he had a "whore's soul." Also, he made rowdy inmates spend days and nights in the garden, near a so-called "remorse tree." Harari was also convicted of assaulting an inmate who requested to leave the institution.

The court said that Harari's conduct "amounted to mental abuse that consists of blatant humiliation, degradation and terrorizing, in severe breach of the right to human dignity."

The judge also rejected his claims that the inmates conspired against him.

"I was not convinced that the sole purpose of the inmates' testimonies was to incriminate an innocent man," he wrote in the ruling. "Neither were they likely to have a reasonable motive to make false allegations against the defendant."

The court sentenced Harari to additional 18 months of suspended imprisonment and banned him from leaving Israel until his imprisonment takes effect.

His lawyer said he would appeal the sentence to the Supreme Court.