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Ben-Dror Yemini
Photo: Alex Kolomoisky
Gilboa Prison in northern Israel

A decade of systemic neglect led to Gilboa prison break

Opinion: The escape of the six Palestinian prisoners from the high-security facility is nothing but a logical outcome of Israel either fearing or not caring enough to deal with core issues; if Bennett truly believes he's heading a 'government of change,' he better make good on his word

Ben-Dror Yemini |
Published: 09.09.21, 23:41
The escape of the six Palestinian prisoners from Gilboa Prison on Monday and the fact that they are still at large is boundlessly infuriating.
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  • The fugitives, all security prisoners with blood on their hands, are being portrayed as hears in the Palestinian community, with Islamic Jihad militants marching through Jenin guns blazing in celebration.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    בית כלא גלבוע
    בית כלא גלבוע
    Gilboa Prison in northern Israel
    (Photo: AFP)
    Security officials fear the incident could lead to a large-scale flare-up across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with the possibility of Hamas joining the fray.
    The escape should not be seen as an isolated event, but the direct result of years upon years of neglect that has seeped into not only Israel's prison system, but every other part of the state.
    For over a decade, Israel's policy when it comes to core problems in the country has been to look away, hoping to get away with it. Decisionmakers are either afraid or don't care enough to take care of these issues.
    In the south, illegal Bedouin settlements continue to grow unabated, with violence and organized crime reaching every business and construction site in the area.
    Everything south of the city of Be'er Sheva is pretty much the Wild West.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    זירת אירוע הירי בערערה
    זירת אירוע הירי בערערה
    Police at a scene of a shooting in the Bedouin community of Ar'arat an-Naqab
    (Photo: Israel Police)
    In 2014, several hundreds of IDF officers signed a petition, calling on the country's leaders to stop the rampant theft of army equipment from bases, saying that "any device left unguarded is sure to be stolen, either covertly or by outright threat."
    What have the politicians done to address this issue? Absolutely nothing.
    Similar type of chaos has also been reigning in the West Bank for decades now, with Jewish settlers occupying every small hill in the area and forcing the government to either recognize the outposts or leave them be.
    Sure, an argument could be made as to wether Israel's presence in the West Bank is justified or not, but who needs debates when a small and determined cohort runs around and creates facts on the ground?
    Maybe this is bad for Israel, maybe most Israelis do not want to keep the territory and maybe there needs to be a unified and coherent policy regarding this area. All of this does not interest the radical settlers who continuing to force the future as they see it on the whole country. Them, and not the government.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    Israeli settlers throw stones at Palestinian houses (not seen) in the West Bank city of Hebron
    Israeli settlers throw stones at Palestinian houses (not seen) in the West Bank city of Hebron
    Israeli settlers throw stones at Palestinian houses (not seen) in the West Bank city of Hebron
    (Photo: Reuters)
    And this is where the shocking prison break comes in. The carelessness when it comes to policies has seeped into the prisons a long time ago. It is not unclear when Israel lost control over the prisoners, but one thing is clear, there is no oversight within those walls.
    The terrorists made their demands and the government folded, with politicians just wanting the problems to go away, ignoring the ever-increasing volatility of the situation.
    The police investigation into the escape might reveal systemic failures that might have led to it, but the main issue of overall neglect of our systems will remain. That same neglect led to total loss of control in the Negev, the West Bank and now the prisons.
    The list of issues that were birthed from Israel's lack of governance is too large to detail here.
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's "government of change" is still not even 100 days old. But looking at the current state of affairs, they must make good on their name.

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