The family of a Shin Bet security service informant is suing the agency for causing his death by negligence. The family accuses the Shin Bet handler of failing to prevent the informant from committing suicide, even though he knew of his intention to do so.
The informant, 28, of the illegal West Bank outpost Havat Gilad, near Nablus, was found hanging in his home on the morning of March 28. His relatives found a recording of a conversation he had had with his handler before dawn that morning, in which he said he was going to commit suicide. In the recording the informant said he was going to kill himself in the wake of a break-up with his girlfriend of three years. He said he suspected she had found a new partner and told his handler he had a rope tied around his neck.
The handler tried to persuade his source not to kill himself, but didn’t warn anyone else that the source was in his home with a rope tied around his neck or take any other steps to stop the suicide, the plaintiffs say.
“She has someone in her life,” the informant says on the recording. “That’s it. It’s over. It’s really over, bro. It’s all over.”
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The handler asks: “Are we meeting tomorrow?”
“I don’t know,” the source says.
“Let’s sit,” the handler says.
“I don’t think I’ll make it till tomorrow,” says the source.
The handler: “Enough, bro, let it go. Make it to tomorrow and we’ll meet. Let’s sit, talk about everything.”
The informant: “OK, let’s talk tomorrow.”
The handler: “So we’re meeting tomorrow?”
The informant: “Let’s talk in the morning.”
After that the source threatened more explicitly to commit suicide. The handler asks him: “What’s going on now? You’re scaring me a little.”
“What’s happening with me? I don’t know,” the informant says. “I really feel I can’t go on anymore. I’m tired of fighting it.”
“Take it out of the equation,” the handler responds. “It’s irrelevant. It’s not wise. You don’t do that. You have a lot to live for. Tomorrow morning things will look different. Drink a glass of water, go to sleep, get up in the morning. Call me.”
“I’m going to kill myself,” the source says.
“What? Stop it, bro. It’s not an option. Forget it,” the handler says.
“In the last quarter of an hour I’ve had a rope on my neck. I’m not kidding,” the informant says.
“Take it off, get it out of the house,” the handler says.
“No, it’s complicated,” says the informant. The following day he was found hanging lifeless.
His family’s lawyer Itamar Ben Gvir, a far-right activist, wrote to Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit and State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan that the informant had served as a source for the Shin Bet’s Jewish section without his family’s knowledge and had been “exploited shamefully.” The agency’s Jewish section seeks to foil violent acts by Jews, including so-called price-tag attacks and terror attacks, which usually target Palestinians.
Ben Gvir argues that beyond offering some support over the phone, the handler did nothing to discourage the source from killing himself. He could have called the police or shown up in person, argues Ben Gvir who is demanding that a criminal investigation be opened against the handler for causing death by negligence. He said the family plans to sue the service.