IDF suspends colonel after documents swiped from his car

Head of Northern Command disciplines senior officer whose encrypted phone, classified paperwork were stolen

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

Illustrative: computer security (cyber security image via Shutterstock)
Illustrative: computer security (cyber security image via Shutterstock)

The head of the IDF Northern Command, Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, suspended a colonel for one week beginning Thursday after classified documents and an encrypted cellphone were stolen from his vehicle, the army announced Sunday.

The army would not release the identity of the officer or his position.

The IDF’s Military Police has also opened an investigation into the incident, the military said in a statement.

The model of the stolen cellphone — known in the army by its codename “Mountain Rose” — is encrypted, and used by officers and soldiers with sensitive positions to speak without concern for electronic eavesdropping.

IDF Military Intelligence Director Major General Aviv Kochavi, August 08, 2013. (photo credit: FLASH90)
Northern Command chief Aviv Kochavi. (FLASH90)

It was the latest in a series of incidents that saw senior officers being disciplined for having sensitive documents and electronics stolen.

To prevent leaks of classified information, the IDF forbids officers from leaving army laptops and computers unprotected, requiring them to be kept in a safe when taken off-base. The army deals out serious punishments to officers who allow military computers or other sensitive equipment to be stolen on their watch.

Last month, the head of the army’s Manpower Directorate Maj. Gen. (res.) Hagai Topolanski announced he would step down from his post, a day after a laptop containing classified information was stolen from his home in southern Israel.

Last year, Col. Ilan Levy was summarily dismissed from his position after classified documents were stolen from his car, where he had accidentally left them. The stolen documents were smuggled into the West Bank, where they were later recovered by the Shin Bet.

In October, a lieutenant colonel in the air force was suspended for two weeks after an army computer was stolen from his house.

And earlier this year, the head of Israel’s missile defense program, Yair Ramati, was dismissed from his post amid allegations that he too had improperly maintained state secrets.

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