Aviv Kochavi
Aviv KochaviIDF Spokesperson

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi was presented in recent days with the findings in the investigation into the death of an IDF trainee a day after an attempt was made to recruit him as a source by two military police intelligence investigators in 2019.

The findings were presented by the head of the Manpower Directorate, Maj. Gen. Moti Almoz, and Ground Forces Commander Gen. Yoel Strick.

The Chief of Staff was also presented the findings of a special team of experts, led by Eric Barbing, on the recruitment of sources in the military and their activation.

The members of the team were appointed by the Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. Moti Alamuz, and the Chief Military Advocate, Maj. Gen. Sharon Afek, and previously held senior positions in intelligence, security and law enforcement agencies.

The Chief of Staff stated that this was a serious event that ended in the tragic death of a soldier, and stressed, "The leading principle in the IDF is 'the preciousness of the individual.' This is a principle which must guide all commanders and soldiers. This principle is derived from the imperative to be sensitive to the person, take care of his needs and handle every incident with respect for the sanctity of life"

The investigation into the conduct of the IDF unit pointed to a number of faults and errors. The severity of the conduct of the intelligence coordinators was that they did not report the signs of distress revealed by the soldier in conversations with them, and after knowing of his absence did not reflect the sensitivity of the case.

The expert team pointed out failures in the operation of the IDF intelligence operation and noted that it was the duty of commanders and intelligence personnel, at all levels, to ensure the existence of fundamental processes, respect for their rights and regular concern for the physical and mental state of the soldiers.

Charges were filed against the two military police officials in September, 2019 on offenses of misinformation, non-compliance, and inappropriate conduct following the soldier's death.

According to the indictment, the two did not report any mental distress identified in a Givati Brigade fighter, whom they had sought to recruit as an intelligence source.

The soldier was found shot outside his unit days after meeting with the accused.

The Chief of Staff fully accepted all the lessons, conclusions, and recommendations presented by the experts, and ordered a series of systemic measures, including strengthening the intelligence system of the Military Police and updating the work procedures of the army, formulating an updated procedure detailing the actions of commanders in the case of a missing soldier, including the required search operations, and updating procedures regarding the order of operations in the case of a soldier absent from the IDF. in the casualties lists and on many other operations.

In addition, the Chief of Staff approved command measures recommended by the head of the Manpower Directorate.

The ex-commander of the military police in Be'ersheva, a Major, was ousted from the Brigade unit, will not serve in command positions and his promotion will be delayed for six years, due to his command responsibility for the events.

The military police commander of the Southern Territory, an officer in the rank of lieutenant colonel, was reprimanded by the head of the Manpower Directorate due to his command responsibility for the events.

From the inquiry into the conduct of the soldier's direct commanders at the IDF, the Chief of Staff stated that "deficiencies arising from the lack of realization of command responsibility and the incomplete utilization of the capabilities and operations to locate the soldier" emerged.

The Chief of Staff approved command measures recommended by the ground arm commander, although no direct or indirect responsibility for causing the soldier's death was found.

The IDF chain of command at the time of the incident, the brigade commander, the battalion commander and the company commander were reprimanded for unsatisfactory performance during the initial phase after the absence of the soldier was first discovered.

The Chief of Staff emphasized the importance of the ongoing struggle for suicide prevention in the IDF. He said: "This struggle has borne fruit over the years, which has been reflected in a decline in the number of suicide cases in the IDF. We must do everything and turn every stone, to learn and improve from every event with the aim of preventing, as far as possible, these difficult cases."