IDF reservist doctor's family demands police probe death as hate crime

Dr. Avi Harlev's body was found with gunshot wounds on Tuesday night in Lahav Forest north of Beersheba.

Dr. Avi Harlev (photo credit: BARZILAI HOSPITAL)
Dr. Avi Harlev
(photo credit: BARZILAI HOSPITAL)
Family members of Avi Harlev, a doctor at Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon and a lieutenant-colonel (res.) in the IDF, are demanding that the police investigate his death as a murder and a hate crime.
Harlev’s body was found with gunshot wounds on Tuesday night in the Lahav Forest north of Beersheba. An initial investigation led the police to believe that he had committed suicide, N12 reported, an assumption that his family has rejected.
Harlev was apparently on his way home in uniform from a meeting with his IDF reserve unit before contact with him was lost, raising the family’s concerns.
According to a statement released by Harlev’s family on Saturday evening, they “reject the unfounded rumors about the circumstances of Avi’s death that have circulated. We were convinced from the very first moment that Avi was murdered.”
The family said it does not intend to attack the police and those investigating the case, but only asks that all options be properly investigated, “including the possibility of a hate crime,” the statement said.
Harlev had been busy planning personal and professional endeavors, the family said, dismissing the possibility of suicide. He had spoken to his unit’s commander and agreed to continue his voluntary reserve duty in the IDF just hours before his death, the statement said.
Hebron Hills Regional Council head Yochai Damari said the police should investigate whether the incident was a terrorist attack. Palestinians illegally entering Israel from the Hebron area pass through the Lahav Forest, and “it is not inconceivable that one of them identified a lieutenant-colonel with a uniform and decided to attack,” he said in a statement on Facebook.
Harlev, 50, from the Sansana settlement in the Hebron Hills, was the director of the Fertility and IVF Unit at Barzilai and served as a reservist in the 7th Brigade of the Armored Corps. He is survived by his wife, five children and two granddaughters.
The hospital eulogized Harlev as a “beloved person with an expansive heart and a captivating personality that impressed and entered the hearts of everyone who knew him, staff and patients alike.”
“Harlev gave with all his heart and abilities to his colleagues and patients, and everyone who met him could not help but be impressed by his personal charm and personality,” Barzilai said in a statement.