Three Israeli Prison Guards Suspected of Beating Palestinian Prisoners Out of Revenge

The three are suspected of brutally and unjustifiably assaulting bound Palestinians with clubs after two other Israeli guards were stabbed by a jailed Hamas activist

The Ktzi'ot Prison in southern Israel, March 25, 2019.
Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Three Israeli prison guards were recently interrogated on suspicion that they beat boud Palestinian prisoners out of revenge over an incident in which a jailed Hamas activist had stabbed two prison guards in March. 

The incident involving the three guards took place at the Ktzi'ot Prison in southern Israel on March 24.

The guards were not suspended and the Israel Prison Service did not carry out a comprehensive debriefing of the incident, law enforcement sources said.

>> Read more: Wounded Palestinian prisoners left in rain with no food or toilets in 'night of the atrocity' 

 The suspicion is that three guards beat up the bound Palestinians with clubs without any justification and after two people had already been arrested in connection with the stabbing of the two guards. One of the three, identified as Islam al-Washahy, is charged with attempted murder. 

The National Prison Wardens Investigation Unit launched an investigation into the incident, questioning the three prisoners and other witnesses, including the prisoners. The prisoners said they were left shackled in the prison's yard for over 24 hours after the guards were stabbed, without getting food or access to a toilet.

According to sources involved in the matter, the incident was captured in the prison's security cameras.

The beating took place immediately after the prison guards were stabbed. Dozens of security prisoners affiliated with Hamas and Islamic Jihad were handcuffed and taken outside the prison's living quarters, were they were left for hours.

Some 15 prisoners were evacuated to a hospital in Be'er Sheva to receive medical care. Some had to be airlifted out of the prison because of the severity of their condition: Two were in serious condition and others suffered from serious contusions. 

One of the stabbed prisoners was seriously wounded and has stabilized since. The other guard was lightly wounded and treated at the scene.

The Israel Prison Service officials told Haaretz the footage shows "severe violence without a reason," and that "everybody in the Prison Service are familiar with the incident and are talking about it, but behave like everything is normal. Even if they were terrorists, there is no reason to beat them when they are handcuffed." 

"Deliberate attempts are made to silence what happened, despite the fact this is a grave incident that raises basic moral questions. Guards like that shouldn’t serve in the Israel Prison Service, and the worst thing is that the service heads haven't released a clear statement condemning the incident," a law enforcement source said.

The Israel Prison Service responded to the report with the following statement: "A security prisoner attempted to kill two prison guards during a planned terror attack at the Ktzi'ot Prison, and an indictment was filed against him.

"Immediately after the guards had been stabbed, a riot broke with the prison guards responding to calm things down and to prevent further stabbing attempts against the prison staff," the statement read.

"Following an initial examination of the guards' conduct during the incident, the Prison Service decided to transfer its investigative materials to the National Prison Wardens Investigation Unit parallel to the claims made to the court by the security prisoner who attempted to murder guards that he was allegedly beaten while guards were trying to subdue him.

"The Prison Service abides by the law, is investigating the incident and holds nothing back," the statement went on to say.

"The prison guards are required to act according to binding norms and values, as we did in the past and as we will continue doing in the future. Once the investigation is over and the Prison Wardens Investigation Unit submits its conclusions, we will act accordingly," the statement added.