Two low-ranking IDF officers were dismissed from their positions after they were caught lying and fabricating evidence during an investigation into the death of a reservist who collapsed on a cross-country run earlier this year, a senior IDF officer said Tuesday.
A deputy brigade commander was also formally censured, and more servicemen were expected to be punished in the near future, the officer added.
The Military Police and Military Advocate General are also considering pursuing criminal proceedings against the two lieutenants, the military official said.
However, the official stressed that the officers’ conduct was not believed to have caused the reservist’s death “in any way.”
On March 21, Cpt. (res.) Elhanan Brezler, 36, of the IDF’s [Jordan] Valley Reservists Brigade collapsed after running approximately four kilometers as part of an army-organized run from the Dead Sea to the Sea of Galilee by way of the Jordan Valley. Medical teams called to the scene were unable to revive him and pronounced him dead.
Head of the Central Command Maj. Gen. Roni Numa called for an investigation into the incident, appointing Col. Kfir Cohen to lead the probe.
Brezler, from the northern town of Katzir, was found to have died of heart failure, prompted by the run.
During the investigation, the two lieutenants in question were asked if they had prepared a document on safety procedures for the run, as required by IDF rules. They had not, but one of them told investigators that they had prepared such a document. The officers then wrote up a set of safety procedures after the fact, which they offered to investigators as evidence, the military official said.
In light of their actions, the commander of the brigade dismissed the two young officers.
The brigade commander also censured his deputy, and “two more staff officers will likely be courtmartialed going forward,” the official said.
The results of the investigation into Brezler’s death have already been reviewed by Numa, the officer said. But they will also be passed along to IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot “because this was a case of gross moral failure.”