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Police find intel officer who died mysteriously wasn’t killed by ‘a deliberate act’

Review of military’s internal probe says IDF conducted all ‘necessary’ investigative actions, but other examinations should be held

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Israelis protest outside the IDF's headquarters in Tel Aviv, calling to release information about a Military Intelligence officer who died in prison, on June 7, 2021 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90/File)
Israelis protest outside the IDF's headquarters in Tel Aviv, calling to release information about a Military Intelligence officer who died in prison, on June 7, 2021 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90/File)

A police review of the military’s probe into the mysterious death of a jailed and soon-to-be-charged Military Intelligence officer last year determined Monday that he was not killed by “a deliberate act.”

The officer, who was being held in jail under accusations of grave security offenses, and whose name remains barred from publication, was found dead in his in May 2021. There was no clear sign of cause of death, and an autopsy in Israel, as well as a blood test at a specialized forensic laboratory in the United States, were inconclusive.

In January, the Israel Defense Forces allowed the police to review its internal investigations.

The police team found “there is no indication that the officer’s death was caused as a result of a deliberate act by anyone,” according to a statement published by the IDF.

The statement said the police team found that the IDF “conducted all the necessary investigative actions,” but also recommended additional “investigative actions in a number of other areas.”

The officer’s family and lawyer were updated on the police findings, the IDF said.

Benny Kuznitz, attorney for the family of a Military Intelligence officer who died in custody last month, speaks to reporters before a hearing in a military court in IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv on June 7, 2021. (Flash90)

The officer, who served in a Military Intelligence technology unit, was facing expected charges for nearly two dozen separate offenses, as well as an expected 10-year-or-longer prison sentence. IDF chief of staff Aviv Kohavi said the officer had nearly caused damage to a state secret, but the damage was prevented at the last minute, following his arrest.

He was being held in prison while his attorneys and military prosecutors were negotiating a potential plea deal. On the night of May 16, 2021, he was found in serious condition in his cell and was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead a few hours later.

Though no official cause of death has been determined according to the IDF, military officials indicated it appeared to be a suicide.

The family has called for the military to recognize the officer as a fallen soldier. The officer did not receive a military burial as he had already been released from service while under arrest.

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