Is “work the path to rehabilitation”? The Shata prison uprising (1958) and its effect on detention policy in Israel

Nomi Levenkron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Incarceration facilities are microcosms of the society within which they exist, mirroring its social, economic, ethnic, and national divisions that continue to manifest within them, albeit in different ways. Yet, we rarely have a chance to take even a quick look at what takes place within the prison walls, which most often remains hidden. Prisoners’ revolts and mass escapes produce both a practical and a metaphoric crack in the closure of the walls that surround prisons and afford a glimpse, however partial, of some of these intriguing aspects. The prisoners’ uprising that took place at Shata Prison on July 31, 1958, led to the largest prisoner escape in Israel: 11 prisoners and two guards were killed, 66 prisoners fled to Jordan, and many others were injured. The article tells the story of that uprising, moving along the macro axis, which examines its broad implications for Israeli incarceration policy, and the micro axis, which follows three key figures featured in the event: the leader of the revolt, a guard, and a Jewish prisoner. The article weaves the fabric of Israeli society in its first decade, with its rifts, fears, frustrations, and hopes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-353
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of Israeli History
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • detention policy
  • inflators
  • police
  • Prison escapes
  • Shata
  • Tzvi Hermon


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