Officer charged with grave security offenses ‘shouldn’t have died in prison,’ says IDF chief

“He should not have died in prison and we have to investigate why,” said Kochavi.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

The IDF intelligence officer who recently died in prison was “an excellent officer,” IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi said Wednesday morning at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.

The soldier, whose name is under a gag order, had been imprisoned since September 2020.

Charged with grave security offenses that could have landed him up to 15 years in prison, the officer was found unresponsive in his cell in mid-May and later died.

“He was one of my soldiers, one of our officers,” said Kochavi of the soldier who worked in a technology unit within the intelligence division.

“Even if he carried out serious offenses, and he did. He knew…what he was doing, and I don’t know why he did it. He was a great officer,” he said.

“He should not have died in prison and we have to investigate why.”

Kochavi added that the soldier had not committed the offense for “ideological, national or financial reasons” — rather, he acted out of what the chief of staff called “personal motivations.”

The IDF’s media blackout on the case has evoked the Prisoner X affair, in which dual Australian-Israeli citizen Ben Zygier was secretly held in solitary confinement while awaiting trial for classified security offenses. Zygier eventually committed suicide in 2010.

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The officer who recently died was treated completely differently than Zygier, Kochavi said.

“Everything we did was to maintain his privacy and the privacy of his family out of fair treatment. We wanted to take care of him,” he said.

“We wanted to take care of his family. And at the same time, keep a big secret that he almost compromised but at the last minute we stopped.”

The officer admitted to many of the charges against him, the IDF said in a statement.

Benny Kuznitz, the attorney representing the officer’s family, said that “we respect the Chief of Staff, but the IDF failed in its core duty to preserve human life in a guarded and supervised military facility.”

Rejecting the IDF’s statement that the soldier committed suicide, Kuznitz said, “the family demands a thorough, comprehensive and transparent investigation.”

No official cause of death has been given, as autopsy results are still pending.

Because the soldier was released from the IDF during his incarceration, his family will not be recognized as a bereaved military family and he was buried in a civilian cemetery.