Jerusalem/Melbourne: Amid reports that an Australian, suspected of links to Israel`s Mossad spy agency, was found hanged in an Israeli prison cell in 2010 after being secretly held for several months, Israeli MPs today posed tough questions over the sensitive issue.
Australian television network ABC aired an investigative report today revealing that Ben Zygier, an Australian national, who was held in complete isolation at the Ayalon Prison in Ramla, had died in a high-security cell in late 2010.
He had committed suicide according to official documents.
The report claimed that in the years before the arrest of the man, he had worked for the Mossad spy agency.
Israel, the report said, made efforts to keep the case and the prisoner`s existence a secret.
The 28-minute programme revealed that Ben Zygier, who was in his 30s when he died, used the name Ben Alon while living in Israel. He was married to an Israeli woman and had two small children.
In June 2010, the Israeli news site Ynet briefly reported on the existence of the prisoner, identified only as `Prisoner X` whose crimes were unknown, but that report was removed from the site shortly after it was posted.
Ynet later that year reported that a prisoner had committed suicide while in solitary confinement. That report was also quickly removed.
Left wing Meretz party head, Zahava Gal-On, reacted sharply to comments made by lawmaker Miri Regev (of ruling right-wing Likud Beteinu party), who accused her of undermining the country`s security by discussing the Australian prisoner affair during a Knesset session yesterday.
"Following Miri Regev`s appeal to the attorney general to prosecute me and the two MKs (lawmakers) who addressed the Australian prisoner affair, I would like to suggest that before shouting, Regev learn a thing or two about the duty of lawmakers and the reasons for the existence of parliamentary immunity," Gal-On wrote on her Facebook page.
"We Knesset members are here to take care of the public interest, not to come between the public and the authorities and hide information, especially when this information is already published all over the world", she said.
"Miri Regev is using the `security` excuse to justify silencing and empty incitement. The gag order has nothing to do with a security risk but is aimed at `not embarrassing` the authorities," she added.
Regev, a former spokesperson for the Israeli army and chief military censor, wrote on her Facebook page this morning that "MKs Dov Khenin, Ahmad Tibi and Zahava Gal-On took advantage of their immunity to undermine the State`s security".
"I have turned to the Knesset`s Ethics Committee to discuss this violation immediately. I will also turn to the attorney general," she said.