the 90th minute

Until September 2007, when my oldest daughter was born, this blog covered daily life and politics in Israel, as well as Hebrew-English linguistic issues, from the perspective of an American-raised journalist and translator living in Israel. Now it mostly serves as the SmunchMonk&Bear news agency, a portal into the bizarre universe of the little people. Read more at:

Monday, December 4, 2006

Between a rock and a hard place

The escape of convicted serial rapist Benny Sela appears to have struck fear in the hearts of Israeli women and profit in the stores that sell pepper spray.

As for me, I have been trying to decide which I should be more worried about: the prospect of members of our illustrious police force being complicit in Sela’s escape or the prospect of members of our illustrious police force being even more inept than I had imagined.

I’m leaning toward Option B being scarier and Option A being more likely, partly because there are just way, way too many coincidences in his escape for me to accept them at face value and partly because I prefer the less scary option.

The following is what happened, as best as I can glean from the Israeli media:

The prison service mysteriously received a notice for Sela to appear at the Tel Aviv labor court on a Friday (that would be a week ago last Friday – what, you thought this was a tiny country?), even though there are no hearings there on Friday. The prison guards let him out and sent him with a police escort that the Tel Aviv police chief said did not meet the standard for someone of Sela’s risk level, even though the prison service had been alerted that Sela was trying to find ways to break out. He was handcuffed only on his hands and the cuffs were not locked. While the police escort stopped at another courthouse, Sela got out of the police car and climbed over a wall in the court compound. The only person who noticed this was another prisoner. When the police escort finally worked out that their escortee was missing, they waited around for a sentry to unlock the gate before starting to look for Sela. When he escaped he was only wearing half a prison uniform (brown pants), making it easier for him to blend in with everyone else. He found it even easier to blend in when he magically discovered a pair of jeans in a park right near the courthouse he escaped from, and changed into them there (the prison pants, but no Benny Sela, were found a short time after the escape).

I mean, need I say more? In this kind of situation, I can only hope that there was a conspiracy involved, because the alternative is really just too frightening to face.


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