Following the death of an AMAN officer in an Israeli military prison recently, speculation arose over whether the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) was trying to cover up an espionage story. This came after the military claimed Captain Tomer Eiges had not been charged with espionage before his death, while other sources claimed he had. In addition, there was speculation surrounding how he died, with the IDF carrying out its own internal investigation but revealing nothing to the media or the public.
It now seems that the IDF has bowed to mounting media and public pressure, with Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi finally addressing the nation about the situation. There had been speculation not only about whether there was an espionage charge but also the nature of any charge. For instance, it could have been down to the intelligence officer discovering top-secret information and planning to cause damage by becoming a whistleblower.
More details come to light
As more details about the intriguing and controversial case came to light, Lt. Col. (Res.) Amnon Lipkin-Shahak said: “I want to say most clearly that the officer of the IDF is a soldier of mine, of all of us, even if he committed a very serious offense. The officer of the IDF committed very serious offenses. He did them consciously, he did them on purpose for reasons I cannot describe.”
Despite IDF denials over the espionage charges, the comments suggest that the intelligence officer was indeed charged before his death. Controversy and unrest over the situation had been mounting for some time, and Kochavi commented on the criticism the IDF had received.
He said, “This officer is unlike Prisoner X or anything they try to describe. He was in his full name from the moment he was arrested, and even before of course, in contact with his family and those around him in prison. Everything we did was to save his modesty and the modesty of his family out of fair treatment.”
He also said that the IDF wanted to protect him, protect his family, and “at the same time keep a big secret that almost hurt.”
However, Benny Kuznitz, an attorney for the officer's family, said that while they respected the chief of staff, the IDF had essentially failed to perform a vital task – “to preserve human life in a guarded and supervised military facility”. He added that the family wanted a thorough and in-depth examination with total transparency.
The motive for actions was personal
It was further revealed that the officer, who was part of a classified technology unit in the Intelligence Corps, acted based on personal motives rather than nationalist, ideological, or economic ones. He was indicted for serious security offences.
In mid-May, it was reported that the officer was gravely ill in his prison cell, with his death reported shortly afterwards. According to reports that emerged earlier this week, there was evidence the officer had been swallowing bullets, but this was allegedly only noticed by guards in the aftermath of his death.