"I came here to tell you, men and women of the Israel Prison Service, that we are all with you and support your important work. I salute you. The term ‘prison warder’ can be misleading. You are brave servicemen and women on the front line, along with the security forces. You, not the prison walls, are what keep us safe.
Terrorism in prison is part of Hamas’ efforts to harm Israel, just as rockets and incendiary kites are. As always, the State of Israel will not allow terrorism to dictate the agenda, and will fight it relentlessly."
President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin today, Monday 8 April 2019 / 3 Nissan, visited Ofer Prison and met with the warders and commanders of the Israel Prison Service (IPS), in light of recent tension with security prisoners in various prisons. Acting Commander of the Prison Service Commissioner Asher Vaknin and the senior command staff escorted the president on a tour of the facility and at a demonstration of the IPS’s elite unit, at the end of which the president spoke with the warders and command staff.
Ofer Prison is a jail for security detainees and prisoners, located close to Jerusalem and next to the Ofer Military Court. The staff of Ofer Prison deal with many sophisticated attempts at smuggling prohibited items into the jail, such as mobile phones and written material with messages from terror organizations.
Recently, the IPS has begun a pilot of installing devices that block mobile phone signals, as a result of which the prisoners are protesting, including setting fires and attacking warders, and have announced an open-ended hunger strike led by Hamas prisoners.
At the beginning of his visit, the president was briefed by Comissioner Vaknin about the IPS is prepared for the situation regarding the hunger strike of security prisoners. Following this, the president was shown a demonstration of the operational capability of the IPS’s Metzada unit, responsible for controlling outbreaks of violence and disorder in detention facilities. The president then met the staff of the prison, who were joined by Superintendent Sagi Shiluan, a duty officer at Ketziot Prison who was stabbed in the neck by a security prisoner some two weeks ago. The president heard from the warders about the dilemmas and the challenges they face in working with terrorists, and wished Superintendent Sagi a speedy recovery and an easy birth to his wife, who is expecting a baby soon.
“I came here to tell you, men and women of the Israel Prison Service, that we are all with you and support your important work. I salute you. The term ‘prison warder’ can be misleading. You are brave servicemen and women on the front line, along with the security forces. You, not the prison walls, are what keep us safe,” said the president, adding, “The fight against terror doesn’t stop for a moment. Terrorists from Hamas and other terrorist organizations try to attack our people, even when they are behind bars. They plan attacks using mobile phones and try to attack prison warders. You, the brave men and women of the IPS, are what stands between them and their plans. You work in a demanding system that requires you to be in daily contact with terrorists, murderers and their accomplices. This is a complex task that demands a cool head and bravery.”
The president added, “I have to say that I came here to give you strength, but I am leaving here strengthened myself. You have proved to me that you are able to deal with any development. You are part of a long campaign, because you are often with prisoners serving life sentences who have nothing to lose. Terrorism in prison is part of Hamas’ efforts to harm Israel, just as rockets and incendiary kites are. As always, the State of Israel will not allow terrorism to dictate the agenda, and will fight it relentlessly,”
Acting Commander of the Israel Prison Service, Commissioner Asher Vaknin: “The Israel Police Service is a determined organization and its warders are experienced in the uncompromising fight against crime and terrorism within prisons. The IPS controls the jails with determination and any attempt to attack staff or civilians will be dealt with immediately and firmly. The staff in these facilities are trained and skilled in working with this population, both in normal situations and when tension is high. Warders in security prisons are on the front line and are in daily contact with the prisoners. I am proud of their professionalism, bravery and determination, as well as their patience and steadfastness in facing the challenges that this tense period presents.”