Ex-military policemen charged after their informant apparently commits suicide

In highly unusual case, officers accused of failing to inform their commanders that their source, a Givati Brigade soldier, was showing significant signs of mental distress

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Illustrative: One of five Netzah Yehuda soldiers convicted of beating two Palestinian detainees arrives for a court hearing at the Jaffa Military Court, on January 10, 2019. (Flash90)
Illustrative. An IDF soldier walks into a military courtroom. (Flash90)

Two former Military Police officers were indicted Thursday in connection with the apparent suicide of one of their informants, a Givati Infantry Brigade soldier, whose mental distress they had failed to properly report, the army said.

In the highly unusual indictment, the recently released Military Police officers, who served as intelligence-gatherers for the unit, were charged with making false statements, failing to follow orders and conduct unbecoming of a soldier.

“The two did not report the mental distress that they had noticed in the soldier they were trying to recruit as a source for the Military Police’s investigatory unit,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.

The names of the accused ex-Military Police officers have not been released. In the public charge sheet, they are identified only by their rank and the first Hebew letter of their name: Staff Sgt. “Aleph” and Staff Sgt. “Pey.”

According to the indictment, the two met with the soldier on January 9 in order to convince him to become an information for them. During this meeting, the serviceman, whose name has not been released, agreed to assist in their investigation. However, an hour and a half later, he called Pey and told him that “he no longer wanted to cooperated as an information for the Military Police,” according to the charge sheet.

During this phone conversation, the soldier made it clear that he intended to hurt himself, the prosecutors said.

“[Pey] wrote to Staff Sgt. Aleph regarding the deceased and said that he did not believe the deceased would be an informant and that he was considering suicide. Staff Sgt. Aleph responded derisively to these comments, and the two continued in a routine conversation,” according to the indictment.

The two did not report the concerns that the soldier might harm himself, which is in direct violation of Israeli military code.

Two days after the meeting, the serviceman was reported missing from his base and armed with his gun.

“[Aleph and Pey] spoke throughout the night and expressed great concern at the possibility that the deceased would end his life. But despite this, even at this point they did not report their understandings of the deceased’s mental status,” according to the charge sheet.

The serviceman was found later that day shot dead outside of his base. A full investigation into the soldier’s death has yet to be completed in order to officially designate a cause of death, but initial findings reportedly indicate that he shot himself.

The soldier was reportedly recruited by the two Military Police officers to provide information about drug use in his unit.

The two former Military Police officers were charged Thursday in a military court in the IDF’s Tel Aviv headquarters, known as the Kirya.

“The family of the deceased was informed of the decision,” the army said.

The army said that in addition to the charges against the two former Military Police officers, a number of other steps were being considered in order to prevent similar cases in the future.

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