Lt. Col. Eisner
Lt. Col. EisnerIsrael news photo: Flash 90

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. General Benny Gantz decided to remove Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner from his command position Tuesday – but was the decision influenced by an illegally obtained recording of Eisner? Watchdog group Israel Media Watch (IMW) thinks it may have.

IMW filed a complaint to the police Wednesday against Or Heller, a reporter on security affairs for Channel 10 television news, on suspicion that he illegally recorded a conversation between Eisner and Hagit Rein, whose son Benaya was killed in the Second Lebanon War, and who knows Eisner well.

Heller interviewed Rein about her friendship with Lt. Col. Eisner, who personally took her son's body out of Lebanon. Rein then called Eisner and spoke to him, possibly at the urging of the Channel 10 team. According to IMW, it is likely that Hagit Rein did not know that her microphone was still on when she called Eisner and spoke to him. Another version of events that is being circulated on Facebook is that Rein did know she was being recorded but did not know that Eisner's voice, too was being picked up by the microphone.

Later that day, Channel 10 broadcast a recording of Eisner, which – if IMW's accusations are true – was taken from his conversation with Rein. In the recording, Eisner can be heard criticizing the Chief of Staff and the Head of Central Command for the way they disowned him after his scuffle with the Danish anarchist. This recording may have been the last straw that convinced the army leadership to remove Lt. Col. Eisner from his command position.

IMW said that it believes neither Rein nor Eisner knew their conversation was being recorded. If this is true – the recording is illegal under Israeli law. IMW also asked the Attorney General and Legal Advisor to the Government to launch a criminal investihgation against Heller and Channel 10.

Israel is a single party consent state, meaning that at least one participant in a conversation must consent to its being recorded for the recording to be legal. IMW said that even if Heller is not guilty of a criminal offense, he appears to be guilty of a grave ethical offense and should be suspended pending an investigation.  

Channel 10 News denied the allegations Wednesday. "No wiretap was performed and Mrs. Rein knew that she was being recorded. The material that was broadcast received the approval of the legal advisors.