Top Candidate for Israel Prison Service Disqualified Over 'Deals With Inmates'

Attorney General Weinstein clarifies reasons that Eli Gabison was ultimately denied the top position in the Prison Service.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein revealed on Monday that the Public Security Minister decided to cancel the appointment of Eli Gabison to head the Israel Prison Service because the latter was allegedly vulnerable to pressure from criminal elements.

In a letter released Monday by the Justice Ministry, Weinstein stated that suspicions had arisen concerning Gabison's involvement in the improvement of the conditions of certain prisoners. Gabison himself denied these allegations made against him.

Eli Gavison
Dan Keinan

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch announced Sunday night that Eli Gavison's appointment to head the Israel Prison Service has been cancelled. Instead, Jerusalem police chief Maj. Gen. Aharon Franco will be up for candidacy, said the minister.

Gavison, the agency's southern district commander, who began his prison service career in 1981, had been tapped by Aharonovitch to succeed Benny Kaniak.

The Justice Ministry letter stated that it was revealing details about the behind-the-scenes decision-making in order to dispel 'inaccurate' reports about the appointment and its cancellation.

Weinstein revealed that the retired judge Yaakov Turkel approached him regarding anonymous complaints he had received about romantic liaisons that Gabison supposedly conducted with a number of Prison Service officers, and over suspicions that criminals would try to illegally influence Gabison or members of his family.

The Justice Ministry letter said in response to the first accusation that "as of today we have no body of evidence to prove that the appointee conducted intimate relations with officers or jailers in the Prison Service that were under his command."

In regards to the second accusation, however, Weinstein wrote that there remained significant doubts. Weinstein wrote that Gabison had originally denied any irregularities in the requests made by families and friends of prisoners to improve their living conditions, but that he made other claims in his polygraph questionnaire.

The Justice Ministry summarized these findings, saying, "Conflicting answers to simple questions… would seem to point to a contradiction of facts in the different comments made by the appointee on this issue." The letter said that Gabison's polygraph session "did not help him."