Commissioner Yariv Cohen, commander of Hermon Prison

Wanted: Someone to take responsibility for Gilboa prison break

Opinion: The escape of six Palestinian prisoners, 4 of whom have been caught, highlights once again how officials in Israel's public sphere refuse to take blame when something goes wrong; this time it's the turn of Prison Service

Raanan Shaked |
Published: 09.12.21, 23:47
While Israel Prison Service officials wonder how they allowed six Palestinian prisoners to escape one of their most secure facilities, the chief of Hermon Prison said last week it's still unclear if the prison break was down to systemic neglect.
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  • Six dangerous prisoners tunneled their way out through a hole that wasn't sealed for seven years while the prison guard near their cells was sleeping, the watch tower was unmanned, no one answered the phone, and the structure's blueprint was published online year prior. So yeah, we should really examine whether it was systemic neglect or just a bad day at the office.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    יריב כהן מפקד בית סוהר חרמון בריאיון באולפן
    יריב כהן מפקד בית סוהר חרמון בריאיון באולפן
    Commissioner Yariv Cohen, commander of Hermon Prison
    (Photo: Neville Harris)
    They never know, they never hear, they never see but most importantly they never take responsibility, ever. That's the number one rule of Israel's public officials. For example, Prison Service Commissioner Lieutenant General Katy Perry already said she has no plans to resign over this scandal.
    And why should she? Did someone resign after deadly Mount Meron stampede in April or the collapse of a synagogue stand at Givat Ze'ev synagogue earlier this year? The loss of control during the riots in mixed cities in May? The wildfires in Jerusalem (which were the biggest over the past decade)? Or, even the forgery of COVID-19 test results by Uman pilgrims who came back after Rosh Hashanah?
    From a lowest ranking officer up to a minister, every official in Israel knows very well who wins over the public. The first one who faces the camera with a tragic look, which he practiced with his media advisers, and says: I feel for the families in these difficult times, we will investigate and learn the lessons from the incident. Or in other words, we are all responsible, but none of us bears the responsibility.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    המנהרה שממנה ברחו שישה אסירים ביטחוניים מכלא גלבוע
    המנהרה שממנה ברחו שישה אסירים ביטחוניים מכלא גלבוע
    The tunnel through which the six escaped Gilboa Prison
    (Photo: AFP )
    And when an Israeli public figure announces that he or she takes responsibility, they usually don't mean it, because you don't need to announce it, you just need to accept the blame and its consequences and resign.
    But for many years no one in Israel's public sphere would take responsibility and resigned over national disasters caused by human error, and over time they stopped being ashamed.
    For years, no one would stand in front of a camera and say the one thing that any decent man would say after a devastating event for which he is accountable for: I failed, I resign immediately, and hope that one who comes after me will do a better job.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai (center) with other high ranking officers at Mount Meron hours after deadly  stampede (<span style="font-weight: normal;">Photo: Israel Police</span>)
    Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai (center) with other high ranking officers at Mount Meron hours after deadly  stampede (<span style="font-weight: normal;">Photo: Israel Police</span>)
    Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai (center) with other high ranking officers at Mount Meron hours after deadly stampede (Photo: Israel Police)
    Yet again I make myself laugh, because the number of times someone offered a resignation in Israel, you could count on one hand, which also lacks fingers. In every workplace in the private sector, the norm is to resign or get fired after a major failure. But it is sounds like science fiction when it comes to the public sector in Israel.
    But, in places where accountability is not the norm, no one will take responsibility. And where there's no responsibility, something is broken, and it will forever be that way.

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