The family of an intelligence officer who died in unclear circumstances in military prison marked 30 days since his passing with a memorial service on Friday, and accused the military of “murdering” him.
“We tried to piece together what happened to you — the talented and ambitious soldier who found himself mercilessly trampled by a military system. Our child was murdered, and from time to time his good name is also murdered with trending leaks when nothing has been proven at trial,” the soldier’s father said at the service.
The officer was in a military prison at the time of his death as he was charged with severe national security offenses, the precise nature of which is censored, along with his identity.
“I was debating what could be said by the gravestone of a son,” the father said. “I decided to share with you our feelings, feelings of pain, anger and disappointment. Pain for the big missed [opportunity], ours as a family that lost you, of society that lost a rare talent and maybe also of the military,” he continued.
פרשת קצין אמ"ן שמת בכלא | מפקד היחידה שלו בדרגת תא"ל וקצינת הנפגעים של יחידתו הגיעו לאזכרה pic.twitter.com/O2qQ8KtOHH
— איתי בלומנטל Itay Blumental (@ItayBlumental) June 18, 2021
The officer was arrested last year and indicted in September. He had not yet been convicted, but was being held in prison while his attorneys and military prosecutors were negotiating a potential plea deal. On the night of May 16, he was found in serious condition in his cell and was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead a few hours later.
“[I have] anger at ourselves for sleeping quietly in the false belief that you are protected in prison, anger at not knowing that before you died you went through two health incidents in jail and we continued to sleep quietly, anger at an army that received a healthy soldier who devoted himself to the unit, from dawn till late at night, and under unclear circumstances committed unexplained actions,” the father said Friday.
Military prosecutors had been considering seeking a 10-year sentence for the officer, according to reports.
The officer did not receive a military burial as he had already been released from service while under arrest. However, at the memorial service marking 30 days since his passing, the late officer’s unit commander and Casualty Assistance Officer attended, the Kan public broadcaster reported.
Last week, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi defended the military’s decision to impose strict censorship on the officer’s death, saying it was necessary to protect both the country and the serviceman’s privacy. Kohavi said the officer had nearly caused damage to a state secret, but the damage was prevented at the last minute.
The military has said the officer worked alone and did not act on behalf of a foreign government or for financial gain or out of ideology, but out of unspecified “personal motivations.”
Though an autopsy was performed — with a doctor on behalf of the family present — no official cause of death has yet been determined, according to the IDF, though military officials indicated it appeared to be a suicide. Relatives of the officer have expressed doubt that he died by suicide.
An autopsy of the officer’s body found traces of antidepressants in his blood, Channel 13 reported Thursday.
According to the IDF, the officer had access to a senior military defense attorney who had full access to information regarding the charges against him. The hearings against him were held behind closed doors, though members of his family were allowed to be present during portions of the trial, the military said.