Israel defends prisoner program
JERUSALEM — Israel's prime minister on Sunday backed the actions of his country's security forces amid public uproar over the mysterious death of a man who apparently hanged himself while being held secretly in a maximum-security prison.
Israel has said little about the case. But Australian media have said the man, identified as Ben Zygier, was an Australian immigrant to Israel who served in the Mossad spy agency at the time of his death in December 2010. Zygier reportedly was imprisoned for unspecified security offenses.
In his first comments on the affair, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he “completely trusts” Israel's security forces and legal system. He said that freedom of expression is important, but Israel faces extraordinary threats and therefore must keep silent on some details of national security affairs such as this one.
“We are not like all other countries,” Netanyahu told his cabinet. “We are more threatened, more challenged, and therefore we have to ensure the proper activity of our security forces.”
“Allow the security forces to work quietly so we can continue to live securely and safely,” he added.
The affair, suppressed by Israeli authorities until Australia's national broadcaster broke the story last week, has shined a rare spotlight on the murky dealings of the Mossad and brought scrutiny on Israel's system of military censorship and gag orders.
Critics have accused the Israeli government of trying to cover up the affair and are demanding a full investigation, fueling a debate about balancing national security and freedom of information in a country that prides itself as a vibrant democracy. Israeli officials have said that while the matter was kept from the public, the prisoner was given legal representation and maintained contact with his family.
The matter also has strained relations with Australia, a close ally of Israel.
Australia's foreign minister, Bob Carr, on Sunday demanded that Israel provide information on the prisoner for an Australian investigation into his death.
“We have asked the Israeli government for a contribution to that report,” Carr told reporters in the Australian capital, Canberra. “We want to give them an opportunity to submit to us an explanation of how this tragic death came about.”
Carr initially said last week that his Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had been unaware that the prisoner, who also used the names Ben Allen and Ben Alon, had been in Israeli custody until his family asked for his body to be repatriated.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Iraq, ISIS urge Turks to release dam water
- Wave of attacks sets Israelis on edge
- Greece divided over economic future
- Srebrenica’s killing fields home to thousands slain in genocide
- Iran tells U.S. to curtail ‘coercion’
- Jewish population near pre-World War II level
- Militants attack Egyptian army checkpoints in Sinai, kill 53
- Putin’s approval rating soars to all-time high
- Kuwait holds mass funeral for victims of Shiite mosque suicide bombing
- Greeks rally as Prime Minister Tsipras rejects crisis bailout
- Egyptian president plans tougher legal system in speech at burial of prosecutor