Bracha's Suicide 'Shot Heard 'Round Israel'

Thousands eulogize senior police commander Ephraim Bracha as man who fell against 'evil incarnate' in corruption scandal.

Tova Dvorin ,

Ephraim Bracha
Ephraim Bracha
Hadas Parush/Flash 90

Thousands of people attended the funeral of Brig. Gen. Ephraim Bracha on Monday, the commander of the Israel Police's National Fraud division who committed suicide earlier this week.

Outgoing Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino eulogized his friend and colleague and spoke out against those who attacked Bracha for his role in reporting the corruption case of Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto.

"Ephraim, you were a dear friend and commander with a glorious legacy," Danino began, as quoted by Walla! News. "You will always be an example of determination, professionalism, [and you made] enormous contributions to the rule of law and personal security."

"But even you, Ephraim, you could not face evil incarnate," he continued. "You stood against a mendacious propaganda campaign which culminated in humiliation; even after your death, there are attempts to discredit [you], make hints, and distort your honor and legacy." 

"I hope that at least during these difficult days, everybody will learn who you were and what was impressive about what you did, and for everyone to learn to respect and value your actions," he added. "This hurt and injured everyone, left us stunned, pained, hurting, and agitated."

"Beyond your own immediate social circles, including friends, your command and the Israeli police, the people of Israel must see this event as a terrible and real alarm which warns of a severe and significant injury to Israeli democracy and the rule of law." 

Funeral convoy for Brig. Gen. Ephraim Bracha Miriam Alster/Flash90

Acting Police Chief Bentzi Sau also eulogized Bracha, noting that his shot to the heart is the "shot heard 'round the world" for Israeli police and society. 

"We have not heard the shot, but it echoes in all of our ears - just like we never heard the distress that you were under, but it cries loudly from your actions," Sau stated. "History will eventually judge the motives and values of a sensitive person like you to no end, and we, who are left shocked, are facing your graves with no answers. There are many unanswered questions and no one to clarify them." 

"The Israel Police is undergoing difficult times, but it is the police of all of us," Sao added. "The Israeli police must be built from good citizens, who are responsible, committed and honest, in your image."

"Wordless and crying are we today in front of this fresh grave and we refuse to believe that Ephraim, a leading police investigator and top commander, is leaving us with this warning and a lot of food for thought," he continued. "The Israel Police and the entire State of Israel bow before the greatness of the man who gave his all for the sake of personal security of Israeli citizens." 

Bracha's grave. Miriam Alster/Flash90

Several other high-ranking officers also eulogized Bracha at the emotional funeral, including Lahav 433 Commander Roni Ritman and current head of the Department of Police Investigations, Commander Meni Yitzhaki, and former head of the Department of Police Investigations, Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yoav Segalovitz. 

Bracha's daughter Moran also gave a moving speech lauding her father not only as a police commander, but as a wonderful person. 

"After all these years where you belonged to everyone else, now I want you to be mine alone," she said. "My father, who still has not learned what it is to receive. My father, who was a role model. Dad."

"There were days where you lived a nightmare," she continued. "You said you didn't feel well, that your heart was weak, and I saw a real feeling of helplessness."

"I did not know what to do to help you if I could I would take away the pain." 

"I told you not to talk like that, that your life hasn't even begun yet," she reflected. "You had four weddings to walk us down, and many grandchildren to get to know." 

"Last Shabbat, in retrospect, you said goodbye to us," she continued. "You talked with us and would not let us part from you."

"You told me you wanted to be happy, that you love us so much and that you are hurting. I told you that we're happy, you're the best dad in the world and that you keep surprising me."

"I know that my father knew what he was doing, there is some reason and we probably do not realize it," she concluded. "I'm sorry I did not keep you from these people, as you protected me. I'm sorry I did not take away the pain as I wanted."

Victim of libel?

Bracha's reputation was skewered after he was implicated in the Rabbi Pinto corruption case, even though he was cleared of all charges. 

Pinto allegedly attempted to bribe Bracha with $200,000 for information about a pending police investigation into the Hazon Yeshaya charity organization, which Pinto was rumored to be closely involved with. 

Bracha immediately reported the incident to his superiors, prompting a separate investigation against Rabbi Pinto himself - but his name was still tainted by the process. 

That investigation revealed that Pinto allegedly tried to bribe several other officers for information about the case against Hazon Yeshaya. 

The charity, which was supposed to have provided millions of dollars to Holocaust survivors and ran a popular soup kitchen and volunteer network in Jerusalem, closed in 2012 under allegations of fraud.

The allegations claim that several members of the charity - including Pinto - stole much of the food donated to the kitchen and sold it for "tens of millions of dollars," according to a 2012 Haaretz article.

Pinto was later sentenced to one year in prison earlier this year for his involvement in the scandal, as well as in a separate case involving the alleged bribing of Lahav 433 officer Menashe Arbiv.