IDF: Imprisoned intel officer was not 'deliberately' killed

The police team that reviewed the military's internal probe is recommending additional "investigative actions."

An IDF soldier is silhouetted by an Israeli flag (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
An IDF soldier is silhouetted by an Israeli flag
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

The Military Intelligence officer who was found in serious condition in his prison cell in May 2021 and was later pronounced dead at the hospital was not killed by a deliberate act, the IDF said in a statement on Monday, following a criminal investigation that has rocked the military over the past year.

The officer, Capt. T., was behind bars for knowingly committing offenses that caused “severe damage to national security,” the IDF said.

The 24-year-old captain was said to have committed the crimes to compete with his colleagues rather than for ideological or financial motives.

On the evening of his death, he had told his cellmates he was feeling sick and then vomited. He collapsed and lost consciousness a short time later. He was transferred to Laniado Medical Center in Netanya in serious condition and was later pronounced dead.

An autopsy was performed with a doctor representing his family present. His blood was analyzed in the United States in August for the amount of drug concentration, but the cause of his death could not be determined with certainty.

Israeli flag is seen. (credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)Israeli flag is seen. (credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)

An investigation

The IDF opened a criminal investigation into the cause of death and allowed the police to review its internal findings in January.

Following the review, the police team said the IDF had “conducted all the necessary investigative actions,” and recommended additional “investigative actions in a number of other areas.”

The police team found “there is no indication that the officer’s death was caused as a result of a deliberate act by anyone,” the IDF said in the statement.

“There is no indication that the officer’s death was caused as a result of a deliberate act by anyone.”

Police team

As part of the investigation, more than 100 testimonies were collected from other inmates and the prison staff, as well as from medical and mental-health officials, the IDF said. Expert opinions were obtained, and many documents and other materials, including hundreds of hours of security-camera documentation in the officer’s cell, were collected and examined, it said.

Together with a criminal investigation, the IDF opened several investigations into the case, including one led by Brig.-Gen. (res.) Miki Luria, which examined the military’s incarceration system, and one by Brig.-Gen. (res.) Noam Shaar that looked into how to prevent similar incidents.

The conclusions of the two investigations will be presented to IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi along with the summary of the criminal investigation into the case.

The investigation into Capt. T. found that he had “consciously carried out a number of acts that severely damaged state security,” and that he had been “aware of the potential damage to national security as a result of his actions and even tried to hide them.”

The military said the officer, whose full identity remains under gag order despite having been published online, “cooperated in his interrogation and confessed to many of the acts attributed to him.”

At the end of the investigation, he was indicted on charges alleging serious security offenses, the IDF said, adding that “weight was given to the significant damage caused by the alleged offenses.”

Many aspects of the case, including the crimes he had been charged with as well as most of the investigation into his death, remain censored by the military and a court order.

Capt. T. was buried in a civilian cemetery, and will not be considered a fallen soldier since he had been released from the IDF while in prison at his own request.

The family has rejected claims that he committed suicide.

"Not understanding how our son, who we thought was completely healthy, died, is what makes this so horrible."

Cpt. T.'s mother

“Not understanding how our son, whom we thought was completely healthy, died, is what makes this so horrible,” Capt. T.’s mother said last November.

The officer’s family and lawyer were briefed on the police findings, the IDF said.

A year later, four other soldiers in the same unit, including a lieutenant, committed suicide. The lieutenant apparently committed suicide by falling off a building, Israel Hayom reported.

Eleven soldiers committed suicide in 2021, and nine committed suicide in 2020.