A Shin Bet security service officer resigned from the service in late spring after a civil service disciplinary court convicted him of sexually harassing a soldier, Haaretz has learned. The officer, Y, used the woman’s body to demonstrate methods of interrogation aimed at “softening up” suspects.

Y. was a branch head, a relatively senior position. One evening in February, he was making small talk with a 22-year-old female soldier who was doing reserve duty in the office, with the two sitting side by side near Y.’s desk.

During their conversation, Y. described interrogation methods, including “methods to pressure suspects and to soften them up.” He then demonstrated these methods to her by touching her hands and legs against her will.

In May, a complaint was filed against Y. with the Civil Service Disciplinary Tribunal, which operates under the Civil Service Commission. The complainant was represented by Yafit Cnaani-Itzkovich, who deals with sexual harassment cases in the civil service’s disciplinary branch, while Y. was represented by Yehoshua Resnik.

As part of a plea agreement, Y. admitted to the allegations and was convicted, with the court ruling that “the accused broke civil service discipline and conducted himself in a manner unbecoming a state employee.”

Y. resigned from the Shin Bet even before he was sentenced. At the end of June, his sentence was handed down: He was severely reprimanded and banned from working at the service for five years.

Y. had been at the Shin Bet since 1988 and had filled a number of roles. Before sentencing, Resnik presented the court with a letter of appreciation for Y.’s work, written by the Shin Bet deputy director, which the court acknowledged.

At his sentencing hearing, Y. expressed regret and took responsibility for his actions. But the court noted that, “A higher standard of conduct is expected of an employee at the level of the accused, since those subordinate to him look up to him.”
 
The Shin Bet said that it saw the incident as very serious, and that it handles all disciplinary infractions, particularly of this type, in accordance with civil service procedures.
 
"In this case, with the receipt of the complaint against a Shin Bet employee, the case was immediately referred to the official responsible for disciplinary procedures in the Civil Service Commission. The disciplinary court handed down its verdict and sentence.”
 
In 1999, the High Court of Justice declared that Israeli law does not accord the Shin Bet any authority to use physical force during interrogations, other than in “ticking bomb” cases where information must be extracted urgently to prevent loss of life.
 
Reports issued by Hamoked, the Center for the Defense of the Individual, and by B’Tselem in 2007 and 2010, however, said that the Shin Bet continues to use physical force routinely. The human rights groups based their reports on interviews with hundreds of people who’d been detained by the Shin Bet.