Parents sue Shin Bet, claiming agency failed to stop informant son from suicide

Parents sue Shin Bet, claiming agency failed to stop informant son from suicide

In final conversation, 28-year-old tells handler he has a rope around his neck, but agent allegedly did not alert additional authorities

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

View of the West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad, January 10, 2018 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
View of the West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad, January 10, 2018 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The parents of a Shin Bet security service informant said Thursday that they plan to sue the agency after a handler did not prevent their son from death by suicide despite clear warning of his intentions.

On March 28, the 28-year-old informant was found dead in his bedroom in the northern West Bank outpost of Havat Gilad.

Prior to taking his life, the informant phoned his Shin Bet handler, alerting the agent of his deteriorating emotional state following a breakup with his girlfriend of three years.

The 28-year-old had recorded the conversation and Itamar Ben Gvir, the attorney representing the informant’s parents, released its contents Thursday.

The informant can be heard telling the operative that his girlfriend had found someone else and that “it is over.”

Attorney Itamar Ben Gvir arrives for a court hearing at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on February 27, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Shin Bet agent tried to calm down the Havat Gilad resident, telling him that they would meet the next day and talk it through.

As the conversation continues, the informant begins to explicitly vocalize his intentions to take his own life.

“I really feel like I cannot go on any longer. I’m tired of fighting it,” the 28-year-old said.

The handler told him to drink a glass of water, get some sleep and that they will talk in the morning.

But this did not calm the informant.

“I’m just going to commit suicide… I’ve had a rope around my neck for the last fifteen minutes. I am not kidding. I’m in a horrible state,” he responded.

The informant even stated his desire to die in a terror attack “like Raziel,” a reference to fellow Havat Gilad resident Raziel Shevach who was gunned down by a Hamas terror squad in January.

When the handler urged the informant to get rid of the rope, the source responds that “its complicated.”

“Nonsense… I want you alive,” the handler replied.

Rabbi Raziel Shevach with his family in an undated photo (Courtesy Shevach family)

Twenty minutes after the 50-minute conversation ended, the 28-year-old was found hanging lifeless in his room.

In a letter to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, Ben Gvir revealed that the deceased had been working as an informant for the Shin Bet’s Jewish division without the knowledge of his parents.

The attorney also claimed that friends of the deceased had noticed that prior to the suicide, he had been under immense pressure from the agency to provide information on the recent uptick in so-called “price tag” attacks, hate crimes which perpetrators say are in retaliation for Palestinian violence or government policies perceived as hostile to the settler movement.

While his final conversation had focused on the breakup with his girlfriend, the parents insisted that both issues contributed to their son’s poor emotional state and that the Shin Bet operative should have immediately reached out to authorities upon learning that his informant had a rope around his neck.

Ben Gvir called on Mandelblit and Nitzan to open a criminal investigation against the handler, arguing that he should be charged with negligent homicide.

“Unfortunately, this is not the first time that the Shin Bet has exploited the distress of young men,” Ben Gvir said in a statement.

For its part, the Shin Bet responded that it “does not disclose information about its operative activities and does not confirm the information published.”

“Of all the information at our disposal, it appears that the deceased decided to take his life due to unfortunate personal reasons,” the agency said in a statement.

The security service went on to blast parties who it argued were exploiting the attack in order to “harm the Shin Bet and its activities.”

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