Investigators Score Officials in Arab Prison Break in Northern Israel

Authorities at Shattah Prison in northern Israel, where dozens of Arab criminals escaped in a prison break last month which cost the lives of several guards and prisoners, were raked over the coals today for failure to take adequate security measures.

A special investigating committee, consisting of District Court Judge M. Etzioni and Knesset deputies Itzhak Ben Aharon and Yaacov Klibanov, charged in a report released here that negligence with respect to security arrangements at the prison was “outrageous.” The report stated flatly that the authorities were not fit to hold their jobs and invited Minister of Police Behor Shitreet to draw his own conclusions in this respect. The report said it was “astonishing” that the prison, in which “dangerous killers” were held, had been located so near a border.

The committee found that a “psychological psychosis” was rampant among prison authorities who, the committee said, devoted more time and energy surveying the psychology of prisoners than in guarding them. While its three members granted the importance of psychological study as a key to the rehabilitation of prisoners, the committee stressed that “it is not permitted to abandon public safety on account of prisoners’ rehabilitation.”

Several hundred Arab prisoners rushed the guards in the Shattah break and then forced their way into the warden’s office to seize weapons. Jewish prisoners fought the Arabs and one Jew, a convicted murderer serving a life sentence, ran from the prison to the nearest settlement to summon police. After a battle of several hours the prisoners were subdued but many had fled and escaped over the nearby border.

NEXT STORY