(photo credit: MAGEN DAVID ADOM JERUSALEM)
Ariel Ronis, a manager at the Interior Ministry’s Population, Immigration and Border Crossing Authority (PIBA), shot himself to death on Saturday evening after a Facebook post accusing him of racism went viral.
On Wednesday an Ethiopian- Israeli woman from Tel Aviv complained in a lengthy social media post about how she was mistreated at the ministry when she was there with her small children.
In her message, which has garnered significant media attention and nearly 7,000 shares on Facebook since it was published, the mother of three recounts how she was repeatedly told to go to the end of the line at PIBA, while other mothers were quickly ushered inside via a shorter line designated for parents.
She asked to see the manager, Ronis, 47, and told him she felt she was being discriminated against based on the color of her skin. His reply, according to the post, was to “get out of my face,” if she was going to complain about discrimination.
The woman ended up waiting another two hours for assistance.
In response, the Interior Ministry official took to his own social media account to address the criticism piling up against him.
“All my life’s work has at once vanished with the thrust of a word, disappeared,” he wrote hours before he was found dead in his Hod Hasharon home.
“For years I have worked to make a name for myself, a name now synonymous with the vilest of terms – racism.”
He acknowledged what he said was a new reality and that “this will be my fate from now on. I am trying to come to terms with it all.” He stressed that he was not angry with the woman, who he said “appears to have already overcome the incident.”
“I, on the other hand, cannot,” he said, before saying farewell and taking his own life.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said it was stunned to hear about the death of Ariel Ronis, a former agent, and sent its condolences to his family. Ronis joined the Shin Bet in 1992 and carried out a “series of field roles in the Arab sector in the North. In that context, he also operated vis-a-vis the Lebanese sector,” the Shin Bet said.
After nine years of service, in 2001, he was promoted to manager, and joined the Security Assistance Administration, where he worked to rehabilitate informants who had moved to Israel.
He then held a series of managerial roles, before retiring in 2010.
“Ariel was valued as a first class professional, who was dedicated to the mission, and stuck to the goal. He saw his work as a mission,” the Shin Bet said. “During his service, he was responsible for thwarting [terrorist attacks] in Israel and in Lebanon. During his work in rehabilitating informants, Ariel acted ceaselessly to integrate informants into Israeli society.
In 1999, Ariel received a commendation for his excellence,” the Shin Bet added.
Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.