Military police on Wednesday arrested three soldiers from the IDF rabbinate on suspicion that they leaked details about IDF fatalities on the mobile phone application WhatsApp.
The soldiers, from the army’s manpower division, were accused of publicizing the names of soldiers who died at the beginning of the week in an attack on an IDF armored personnel carrier in the Gaza Strip that left six soldiers dead and another missing but presumed killed. The arrested soldiers also posted pictures of coffins being prepared for the fallen troops, Channel 2 reported.
An investigation was launched after details of the deadly incident known only to a limited number of officers and soldiers in the Medical Corps, the rabbinate, and the IDF human resources branch, began to show up on social media websites. The suspects were tracked with the help of the Israel Police’s cybercrime unit.
The IDF Rabbinate is responsible for providing the traditional Jewish religious funeral rites for fallen soldiers.
IDF sources noted that leaking military information about operations is illegal and there is now a determined effort to stamp out the phenomenon.
Rumors about IDF fatalities from the ongoing Operation Protective Edge in Gaza have raced through WhatsApp, leading several families to find out that their loved ones were killed before the IDF have time to formally pass on the grim news.
In other cases, the names of the soldiers circulated on WhatsApp turned out to be false, causing needless anguish.
One IDF soldier was said to be killed in Gaza, and his family plunged into mourning before learning that he was still alive though hospitalized in serious condition.
On two occasions families heard that their sons were killed when in fact they had not been injured at all.
Users of the popular instant messaging platform, recently acquired by Facebook, have been criticized multiple times in the past month for spreading rumors relating to Israeli casualties and IDF operations.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.