The identity of the Israel Defense Forces interrogator code-named “Captain George”, accused of torturing Lebanese militia operative Mustafa Dirani, was revealed Monday night at his own request.
The gag order on the interrogator’s real name – Doron Zahavi – was lifted at Zahavi’s request by Tel Aviv District Court Judge Dalia Ganot, who is hearing his damages suit against the Defense Ministry.
The state did not oppose the lifting of the order on condition that Zahavi’s military activities remain classified.
Zahavi, who was accused of abusing suspects, is suing the Defense Ministry claiming that the ministry turned him into a scapegoat after Dirani accused his Israeli interrogators of torturing and raping him following his capture in 1994.
In April, Ganot rejected the claim for compensation Zahavi submitted against the state for damages included after he was dismissed from the Military Intelligence unit in which he served as an officer following Dirani’s claims.
The state claimed that Zahavi’s suit should be rejected because of the statute of limitations, since more than seven years had passed since Zahavi ended his employment in 2002.
In response, Zahavi said that the evidence revealed on Channel 2’s investigative journalism program “Uvda” in 2011, which supported his claims, obviated the state’s invoking the statute of limitations. The program showed a segment in which the commander of the unit, a colonel, is seen conducting Dirani’s interrogation while the prisoner was naked.
In another interview with Zahavi for “Uvda,” which has not yet been aired, he explained why he decided to ask that his true identity be revealed. “I am tired of hiding behind a nickname. I understand that the public needs to see my face, to hear my natural voice, and to understand that I was a person doing a job and my job was a mission from the state.”
Zahavi also said: “If you know that a certain subject of interrogation was central to an investigation, and insists insolently about something that is very important, and in the previous session you were given permission to strike [him], then the slap you gave him will change his behavior and impact the rest of his interrogation, and that of others as well.”
Zahavi petitioned the High Court of Justice at the time to have the tape released, however the state concealed its existence and gave him other tapes. Zahavi argued that he could not file his suit before the tape that confirmed his story was released, and added that concealing the existence of the tape constituted fraud and deceit.
Zahavi also claimed that in its first response, the state demanded that he pay the fee for filing his suit and did not mention that the statute of limitations. However, the court rejected this claim, saying that the state had the right to keep this claim to itself to argue later.