Israel Pays Prisoner X's Family Over $1 Million to Keep Quiet

Agreement does not include an admission of responsibility for the death of Mossad agent, who committed suicide in prison.

The family of a Mossad agent Ben Zygier, the so-called Prisoner X who committed suicide in an Israeli prison in 2010, will receive just over $1 million (NIS 4 million) in compensation, according to an agreement with the State Prosecutor’s Office, Channel 2 reported on Tuesday.

The agreement between the state and the family does not include an admission of responsibility for Zygier’s death by the authorities. The agreement with the family, which contains a confidentiality clause, was reached after extensive negotiations and without the family bringing a civil suit. The state agreed to pay the family NIS 2.4 million this year and another NIS 400,000 in each of the following four years.

Zygier’s hanging in Ayalon Prison rocked this country and his native Australia when it came to light in February.

In July, Haaretz reported that the family was negotiating with the Prime Minister’s Office (under whose aegis the Mossad operates) and the Justice Ministry to receive monetary compensation, owing to the neglect of Israel Prison Service officers guarding Zygier when he committed suicide.

Central District Court President Daphna Blatman Kedrai, who concluded her investigation into Zygier's death in December 2012, determined that "failure by various elements in the Israel Prison Service caused his death."

The State Prosecutor's Office refused to recognize the Israel Prison Service's criminal responsibility or to indict dozens of prison officials whose failings were detailed in the report, although disciplinary proceedings are now underway against them.

“We are not looking for anyone’s head,” attorney Boaz Ben-Zur, one of the attorneys representing the family, said at a meeting during the investigation. In response, Central District prosecutor Orly Ginsberg Ben-Ari had said: “They say no one is looking for anyone’s head, but someone’s pocket certainly interests them.”

Ginsberg Ben-Ari argued that the prison service’s responsibility to prevent a suicide is not absolute, and that the court must consider the prison service’s resources. “While the technological shortcomings ‘allowed’ the prisoner to more easily carry out his plan, it cannot be said that his plan would not have succeeded if those failures had not occurred,” she told the court.

Both parties’ attorneys declined to comment for this report.