Israel Prison Service

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Flag of Israel Prison Service
Abu Kabir Detention Center

The Israel Prison Service (Hebrew: שירות בתי הסוהר‎, Sherut Batei HaSohar, Arabic: إدارة السجون الإسرائيلية‎‎, Idārat al-Sujūn al-Isrā’īlīyyah),[1] commonly known in Israel by its acronym Shabas (שבס) or IPS in English, is the state agency responsible for overseeing prisons in Israel. It is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Public Security.[2] In 2014, the IPS employed 8,800 workers.[3]


The IPS is divided into three blocs: North (north of Netanya), Center (between Netanya and Ashdod), and South (south of Ashkelon and Jerusalem). The IPS is headed by the Commissioner of Prisons.

In 2014, there were 33 correctional facilities, including five detention centers, housing a total of 25,000 prisoners. 60% were serving time for criminal offenses and 40% for security offences.[4] In December 2011, there were 17,755 prisoners in Israel Prison Service facilities, including 307 administrative detainees held without trial. Of these detainees seventeen had been detained for between two and four and a half years. One had been detained for more than five years.

Prisoners' rights

The conditions in Israeli prisons are reported to meet international standards.[5] Prisoners are entitled to visits from their lawyers and family members, and security prisoners are allowed Red Cross visits. They have the right to file grievances about their conditions to the courts, the Israel Prison Service management and the Israel Police Unit for the Investigation of Prison Service Personnel.[6] Prisoners who are married or in common-law relationships also have the right to conjugal visits.

Inmates who were not convicted of terror offenses also have the right to free university education; under a special education program in which they take online academic programs from the Open University of Israel, and their tuition is financed by prison authorities. This right was also allowed for imprisoned terrorists until 2011.[7]

Prisoners are permitted to receive visitors, subject to occasional restrictions on visitors from enemy entities. Currently residents of the Gaza Strip are permitted to visit with the exception of children between the ages of 8 and 16.[8] Prisoners are free to practice their religion, and permitted to submit petitions to judicial authorities if they are dissatisfied with prison conditions.[5] IPS facilities, interrogation facilities and IDF provisional detention centers are regularly monitored by the International Committee of the Red Cross.[5]

Privately run prisons

The Knesset passed a law allowing private prisons in 2004, and plans for privately run prisons were introduced in 2006. The state hoped to save money by transferring prisoners to such facilities, which would eliminate the need to invest in more infrastructure and manpower. In 2009, the Israeli Supreme Court struck down the plans, ruling that private prisons are an unconstitutional violation of basic human rights.[9] Following the decision, the state had to pay compensation to a company that had already completed construction of the first private prison, near Beersheba.[9]

List of prisons and detention centers

North Bloc

Gilboa Prison

Center Bloc

South Bloc

Detention centers

Prison service training

Israel Prison Service prison bus

Israel Prison Service personnel are trained in krav maga ("contact combat") and conduct training for the prison service (kli'a) wing of the Israeli Military Police.[10]


The current ranks (circa 2007). Their military equivalent is shown in parentheses.


They wear their rank insignia on their upper sleeves.

  • Soher – Warder
  • Rav Soher – Chief Warder (Corporal)
  • Samal – Sergeant
  • Rav Samal – Chief Sergeant (Staff Sergeant)

Non-Commissioned Officers

They wear their rank insignia on their collars.

  • Rav Samal Rishon – Chief Sergeant First Class (First Sergeant)
  • Rav Samal Mitkadem – Master Chief Sergeant (Sergeant Major)
  • Rav Samal Bakhir – Command Chief Sergeant (Command Sergeant Major)
  • Rav Nagad – Chief NCO (Warrant Officer)


They wear their rank insignia on their epaulets or shoulderboards.

  • Meyasher Mishne.svg Meyshar Mishne – Junior Inspector (2nd Lieutenant)
  • Meyasher.svg Meyshar – Inspector (1st Lieutenant)
  • Kalai.svg Kalai – Superintendent (Captain)
  • Rav Kalai.svg Rav Kalai – Chief Superintendent (Major)
  • Sgan Gundar.svg Sgan Gundar – Deputy Commissioner (Lieutenant Colonel)
  • Gundar Mishne.svg Gundar Mishne – Junior Commissioner (Colonel)
  • Tat Gundar.svg Tat Gundar – Assistant Commissioner (Brigadier General)
  • Gundar.svg Gundar – Commissioner (Major General)
  • Rav Gundar.svg Rav Gundar – Chief Commissioner (Lieutenant General) - Commander of the prison service.

Special units

Metzada (named after Masada) is IPS's quick response and intervention force and specializes in suppression of prisoner uprisings, especially in prisons containing Palestinian detainees. It consists mainly of special forces veterans from the IDF.[11]

Nahshon is the IPS's main intervention and conveyance unit and deals with searches, silencing disturbances, guarding IPS staff, etc.[12]

Yamar Dror, founded at the end of 1993, is the IPS unit for fighting narcotics. It specializes in searches and interrogation.


See also


  1. "الهيئات التي تقع تحت مسؤولية وزارة ووزير الأمن الداخلي." Ministry of Public Security. Retrieved on 7 March 2011.
  2. Israel Prison Service. Ministry of Public Security. Retrieved on 7 March 2011.
  3. "Staff Statistics – Total Staff per Bloc" (in עברית). Israel Prison Service. Retrieved 2009-07-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "שרות בתי הסוהר" (PDF).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "US human rights report 2011". Retrieved 2013-06-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Foreign press tours of Israel's prisons". Retrieved 2013-06-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Court: End of Free College for Terrorists - Defense/Security - News". Israel National News. 2012-12-25. Retrieved 2013-06-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Israel continues to bar Gazan children from visiting fathers imprisoned in Israel".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 Zarchin, Tomer (2009-11-20). "International legal precedent: No private prisons in Israel". Retrieved 2013-06-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Kosti, Nir (July 17, 2009). "IPS Special Forces will Train (IDF) Guards". Bamahane (in עברית). No. 2997. p. 16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Metzada Unit" (in Hebrew). Retrieved 2007-10-05. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Nahshon Unit" (in Hebrew). Retrieved 2007-10-05. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Israel Behind Bars: True Stories of Hope And Redemption, ISBN 0-9776736-0-X, by Major (retired) Rabbi Fishel Jacobs.

External links