IDF Chief of Staff “Regrets” Eiges Death, But Claims He Was Stopped at “Last Minute” from Committing Espionage
הרמטכל אביב כוכבי הבוקר על טרגדיית הקצין מאמן בכנס לזכרו של הרמטכל לשעבר אמנון ליפקין שחק זל pic.twitter.com/D12hBYcU2f
— Or Heller אור הלר (@OrHeller) June 9, 2021
In an unprecedented statement, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi addressed the nation concerning the death of AMAN Capt. Tomer Eiges in a military prison. He was forced to do so by the rising furor inside Israel about the death of the young, brilliant cyber-intelligence specialist. Eiges had been kidnapped off a Tel Aviv street last September by counter-intelligence officers and held in solitary confinement for most of the nine months he was in custody for a crime the army has refused to disclose.
Yesterday, Avner Cohen and I co-authored a post which offers strong circumstantial evidence of the alleged offense: Eiges during his cyber-intelligence work had, we theorize, discovered a major vulnerability in an operating system of the cell phones and electronic devices it hacks. The officer either published the vulnerability and its source code or planned to do so. He likely saw this as a way to market himself to future employers as he prepared to leave army service.
Kochavi’s statement indicates the army has been roiled by the scandal and that it recognizes that it gravely mishandled it:
This AMAN officer is my soldier, a soldier belonging to all of us–even if he committed the gravest offense. He committed these grave acts knowingly and with an intention I don’t know how to describe. I am very sorry for this. This officer is not comparable to Prisoner X [Ben Zygier] nor to anything else they are trying to portray.
This officer was in contact with his family and those around him in prison. Everything we did was in order to preserve his privacy and that of his family with a sense of fairness. We wanted to protect him and the major secret with which he almost damaged–in the 90th minute [the end of a soccer match]–we stopped him.
He was an excellent officer. I am very sorry about this incident. No matter what he did, it is forbidden for him to die in prison. This must be investigated.
Clearly, the army found that its hard-nosed approach wasn’t working. So it tried a soft touch, acknowledging that the baby-faced Tomer was a child of the nation. A gifted young man with much to contribute.
But there remain troubling aspects of the IDF’s defense. First, unlike previous army statements, Kochavi doesn’t say that Eiges committed any actual crime, but he intended to commit one. How do you give someone a ten-year prison sentence for intending to commit an act which is arguably a crime, but which hundreds of other AMAN and Unit 8200 officers have done before him (marketing their skills and coding projects to civilian employers)?
Though the chief of staff claims Eiges had contact with his family the truth lies elsewhere. For weeks, if not months, he had no contact with anyone except his interrogators and possibly his lawyer. Otherwise, he was in solitary confinement. Only towards the end of his confinement was he moved to a newer prison, Neve Tzedek and placed in the general prison population. Even then, his parents were only permitted 20-minute visits once every two weeks. This is quite different from what the army is admitting.
Claiming that its actions were solely for the sake of the prisoner and his family is utter hypocrisy. A major national institution doesn’t care for an individual soldier or his family. It can’t. It cares for itself and its own institutional prerogatives. It protects those intensely. It only respects an individual in these circumstances if it has to do so. And for the past nine months it didn’t need to care for Tomer Eiges at all. That’s why he died.
Only now, after this miserable failure, must it account for its shameful abuse of this doomed individual. As for the investigation Kochavi promised, it will go like all such things do: it will express remorse, say it shouldn’t have happened, but it did. And since it did, there’s no purpose in punishing anyway. Water under the bridge. The IDF hopes interest in this case will die down and go away. It is up to Israelis to prove it wrong.
The family lawyer was having none of it:
We respect the chief of staff. But the IDF failed at a key part of its mission–to keep all lives safe in a guarded and supervised military facility [the prison]. The family demands a comprehensive, transparent investigation in order to understand the how this tragic event could be permitted to happen.
For Tomer’s sake, for his family’s sake, for the sake of all Israeli youth, don’t permit this case to die. Keep it alive.
20 thoughts on “IDF Chief of Staff “Regrets” Eiges Death, But Claims He Was Stopped at “Last Minute” from Committing Espionage – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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OMG, is that him?
Hacking community == Russia
That was some acting by Kochavi. He really tried hard to sell the official narrative. Too hard for my mind. I wait for the toxicology report. I hope it is untampered. While I gratefully read your reports on Tomer as the only media source willing to defy the Israeli Censor, I take your speculations as to the why and how with more than a few grains of salt. Perhaps the truth will come out in a few years, or many years, or never. I wish you luck trying to find the true facts in this case.
[comment deleted: you are now moderated after repeated comment rule violations]
Focus on THIS story. Stop trying to change the subject. You don’t care about anyone’s life. You care about the military.
[comment deleted: Read and follow the comment rules. COmments must be on-topic and directly realted to the post topic. Do not wander far afield. Second, your post was Arabophobic. That is absolutely not permitted here. Because of violations in earlier comments you published today, you are now moderated. Only future comments which respect the comment rules will be approved for publication.]
He said nothing about Espionage
@ Hshg: It’s what the IDF charged him with. The fact that he didn’t mention espionage again means the IDF is trying to backtrack and realizes they wildly overreached in this whole matter. But alas it’s too late. Again, Kochavi covering his ass.
He was not charged with espionage.
@ Rex: The claim he was not charged with espionage was made by the IDF, which is trying to avoid the scandal. Why should we believe the IDF or anything it says? Further, if you imprison an officer and offer him a 10 year prison sentence he’s not guilty of littering. He’s guilty of a very severe crime (or at least you would have to believe so in order to offer such a long sentence). The only soldiers who face such long sentences are ones viewed as betraying the state i.e. espionage.
The family of the intelligence officer who died in a military prison last month has requested that his name and photo not be published.
@ Amnon the Prince: First, I don’t credit the Jerusalem Post as a credible source for anything. Second, why would you think that what the family may or may not want is the same as what I’m doing and why I’m doing it? His case is a critical one due to censorship, the public’s right to know, press freedom, and military abuse. Those trump in this case the feelings of the family. Finally, if someone wants to ask me to take the name and photo down they know how to reach me. No one has.
Sometimes some topics are better left unexposed – the name of those involved, their family and anyone close to them may quickly have their lives ruined due to uncontrolled handling of information and the public’s “right to know”.
In this case – like many others – the initial storm and calls for justice might better wait until the actual facts have been clarified as the rushed conclusions will end up ruining innocent people’s lives.
@ Jonathan: Using the excuse of proteching individual privacy, as so many have done here before when I’ve reported stories the state or powreful individuals seek to suppress, only plays into the hands of the powerful. It doesn’t help victims at all. It doesn’t help bring change. It doesn’t help hold malefactors accountable.
I would worry about someone having their life ruined and more about a state which actually takes the lives of its citizens in utter disdain for their individual rights.
You want to wait until the facts are known? And how will they ever be known if people don’t beat down doors to force them to be known. You think Kochavi and AMAN will let you know what really happened unless forced to do so? How naive!!
Oh please, is it Arabophobic to imply that Hamas holds Israeli captives without allowing them contact with anybody, for several years now?
It is a fact and I lament the fact that pointing a finger at Hamas js Arabophobic in your book. I am not Arabophobic, nor fact-phobic
@ DanG: It is Arabophobic to hate on Hamas in the way you did in your earlier comment.
As for holding Israeli prisoners: first, these Israelis voluntarily crossed into Gaza. They weren’t kidnapped or captured. Second, Israel has refused to negotiate for their release for years. So don’t get in a lather about Hamas, when it’s Bibi who doesn’t give a shit about Ethiopian Israelis or Israeli Bedouin captives. Point the mirror in Israel’s direction because those captives could have been reelased years ago if Israel was willing to engage in a prisoner exchange.
You are done in this thread. Do not post here again.
@ DanG: I told you on JUne 3rd:
You have neither offered any proof of your claim nor apologized. You are now banned.