Military Police Reviews Informer Recruitment After Soldier Suicide

Move comes after two investigators were charged with not reporting the distress of a soldier they sought to recruit as informer and who killed himself a few days later

Military Police soldiers at Israel's northern border.
Gil Eliahu

The Israel Defense Forces assembled a team of experts this month to examine the way the Military Police Criminal Investigation Division, whose Hebrew acronym is Metzah, recruits soldiers as informers and handles their activities.

The decision came after two former investigators were charged with not reporting the psychological distress of a soldier they sought to recruit as an informer and who killed himself a few days later. The order establishing the team was signed by Maj. Gen. Moti Almoz, head of the IDF’s personnel directorate, and Brig. Gen. Sharon Afek, the military advocate general.

In its announcement, the IDF said the team would include former high-ranking intelligence, security and law enforcement officials. “The team will examine from a broad systemic perspective Metzah’s location and recruitment of sources and their handling, including the... oversight, control and supervisory mechanisms.” The team is to submit its findings and recommendations to Almoz and Afek by the end of the year.

In September the two investigators, publicly identified only as A. and P., were charged with offenses including insubordination and filing false reports.

According to the indictment, in January the defendants summoned the soldier to a military police base in Be’er Sheva to persuade him to inform on the illegal drug use of fellow soldiers. At the end of the meeting, the soldier signed a document in which he agreed to provide information to the investigators. An hour and a half later, he called P. and said he had changed his mind and that he wanted to meet with a mental health officer because he was emotionally distressed.

P. called A., who was training P. as an investigator, told him about the conversation and said he thought the soldier was seriously considering suicide. A. did not take the matter seriously. The soldier called P. again the next day and told him he hoped the military police would change the way it operated.

The soldier was reported missing the next day, and his body was found a few hours later, near his base.

Oded Savoray, a lawyer retained by the soldiers, said in a response to the announcement of the new team that the parents view themselves as envoys of the parents of soldiers “who were forced, and God forbid will be forced in the future, to face immoral and aggressive pressure and be exploited by Metzah, under severe threats, until they have no choice but to become agents against their fellow soldiers.”

Savoray said the parents were determined to do whatever it takes, within the confines of the law, to guarantee a comprehensive reform of the recruitment and supervisory protocols of Metzah, so that no soldier will every again pay with his life for intolerable pressure applied by Metzah’s intelligence agents.