IDF investigation into death of jailed intel officer comes to nothing

IDF MAG Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi ruled the investigation materials to be sent to an Israel Police investigatory consultancy team.

 OUTSIDE OFER Prison, which primarily hosts the IDF’s West Bank Courts. (photo credit: FLASH90)
OUTSIDE OFER Prison, which primarily hosts the IDF’s West Bank Courts.
(photo credit: FLASH90)

The cause of death of the IDF intelligence officer who died while imprisoned in May 2021 could not be determined and no evidence leads to suspicion of criminal offense, the IDF's Spokesperson Unit announced on Tuesday.

The IDF released details of the thorough investigation conducted by the military's Internal Investigation Unit into the Military Intelligence Directorate officer known as Cpt. T, who died while imprisoned in a military detention center in northern Israel.

While the internal investigation team could not explicitly rule out criminal wrongdoing, it stated that no evidence for that was found and that all avenues of investigation had been exhausted. The Internal Investigation Unit, an independent IDF unit parallel to Israel Police's Internal Investigation Department, was accompanied by a team of military prosecutors throughout the course of the investigation.

More than 100 testimonies were collected from inmates, guards and medical and psychological staff at the military detention center as part of the investigation. Numerous relevant documents were examined, expert legal opinion was gathered and hours of footage from the surveillance camera monitoring the 24-year-old officer's cell were reviewed. Furthermore, a blood sample of the officer was sent to a US laboratory for tests in July.

The IDF's Military Advocate-General (MAG) Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi stated that the investigation was conducted in a thorough and professional manner, with much effort and resources invested to uncover the circumstances of the officer's death. However, she also noted that due to the unique and exceptional nature of the case, every effort should to made to ensure no stone is left unturned in the investigation.

Therefore, following the fruitless investigation, the MAG ruled that the materials from the IDF's investigation will be transferred to a dedicated Israel Police consultancy team, which will advise her on whether any further investigatory action should be taken in the case of Cpt. T's death.

 Israelis protest outside HaKirya base in Tel Aviv, calling to release information about the Military Intelligence officer who died in prison, on June 7, 2021 (credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90) Israelis protest outside HaKirya base in Tel Aviv, calling to release information about the Military Intelligence officer who died in prison, on June 7, 2021 (credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)

The Israel Police team, which will consist of experienced, knowledgeable investigators, according to the IDF, will take over all the case materials gathered from the investigation as it evaluates the case. The IDF's internal investigation will remain open.

Cpt. T's family welcomed Tomer-Yerushalmi's decision, stating it to be a one that "should have been made a long time ago."

"The IDF's moral duty was and still is to leave no stone unturned to uncover how a healthy 24-year-old died while detained in a supervised military detention center," the family said in a statement released shortly after her decision was published by the IDF.

The family also expressed its hopelessness and lack of trust in the military. "Today, we realized the IDF cannot give the answers to our questions and that we will continue to live in tortuous uncertainty."

Cpt. T's family has long asked for clarity from the IDF, ever since the officer's death in May during Operation Guardian of the Walls. It has also continuously rejected claims that Cpt. T took his own life, a suspicion that could also not be confirmed in the IDF's investigation.

Cpt. T was arrested in September 2020 after an indictment was filed against the officer for knowingly committing offenses that caused "severe damage to national security."