IDF Officer, Tomer Eiges, Died by Suicide from Drug Overdose in Military Prison
In my past coverage, I suggested that Capt. Tomer Eiges, who was imprisoned by the IDF for breaching security regulations, may have died by suicide in prison by overdosing on anti-psychotic medication prescribed for him by the prison psychiatrist. He was also taking anti-depressant medication. Published medical reports indicate it’s possible to take one’s life by overdosing on either type of medication.
Both Amos Harel in Haaretz and Ynet now report that this is the leading theory of how he died. The toxicology results have been returned and he had both drugs in his system. It’s no surprise that someone imprisoned for nine months, facing the pressure of a heavy-handed State prosecution seeking to punish him severely with a 10-year prison sentence, and likely believing the case against him to be unfair and unjust, might be driven to consider suicide.
Avner Cohen and I suggested in a post we co-authored that it appears that Eiges was arrested because he sought to publish top-secret computer code and methods he had developed during his years in the cyber-intelligence division of AMAN (IDF military intelligence) before he left army service. In an interview, the family attorney said that he was driven in his intelligence work by “curiosity”:
He understood the potential for damage [in his work]. His motivation was personal. It was a matter of curiosity. An desire for achievement [in his field].”
It also appears that Eiges was doing something that almost everyone in the cyber-security unit did before entering the civilian job market–they sought to interest future employers in their work and the coding innovations they had perfected.
In his op-ed in today’s Haaretz Avner suggests that there could have been bad blood between Eiges and his commander. Perhaps jealousy over Eiges’ achievements. Perhaps a battle between two stubborn individuals in which a subordinate feels mistreated or disrespected and the superior seeks revenge. It would seem that Eiges believed that whatever he did was not much different than what thousands of others in his circumstances had done.
Though the IDF conveniently claims that Eiges confessed to the charges against him, I don’t believe this. Certainly not in the way the army articulated it. This young man was not only brilliant, I’m sure he had a strong sense of pride and ownership of the products of his own mind. He sought recognition of this perhaps by publishing them in a venue where they would be seen by his peers. Perhaps this led to his arrest.
But if the army claim that he confessed was right, why didn’t he agree to the ten-year jail sentence the prosecution offered? Clearly, he rotted away in prison for nine months because he refused the deal. Being a intelligent person, he would have realized that the military justice system was rigged against him. Either he copped a plea and took the ten years or they could keep him there forever.
I can understand how someone with great intelligence and pride would rebel against these two wholly unjust options and choose a third one: suicide. In this sense, his death would serve as a protest against the injustices committed against him. And this is precisely what has happened. Without knowing how events would play out after his death, his desperate act has rocked the military hierarchy and even forced the chief of staff to express regret, while concealing or lying about almost everything else in the case.
Finally, if Eiges was both psychotic and depressed, these are clearly two conditions which could lead to a suicide attempt. Why didn’t the prison authorities understand this potential and offer more support and more oversight of his condition? Is there any such support offered to prisoners in severe distress? I remember reading that Ben Zygier, before he committed suicide, had seen a social worker. One had even been alerted to his deteriorating condition just before his death. But the follow-up was negligible and he died alone, deserted by his wife, and unsupported. These two needless deaths are two deaths too many for the IDF.
10 thoughts on “IDF Officer, Tomer Eiges, Died by Suicide from Drug Overdose in Military Prison – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Lot’s of ink spilled concerning Tomer’s death.
Lot’s of speculation on the part of many people, and still, no hard facts.
No clear cause of death. No suicide note or psychiatric evaluation published.
Just talk, and lots of unsubstantiated blame leveled at the IDF.
@ Amnon: We don’t know if he wrote a suicide note. He may very well have done so. “Unsubstantiated blame?” Are you daft. The IDF has enormous blame here. Read the parents letter denouncing the army which I published tonight. It’s shameful of you to defend the indefensible when a boy’s life has been sacrificed for nothing.
I believe that the IDF, and Tomer Eiges, are deserved of blame.
But what they did, and how blame should be apportioned, remains unknown.
You, not me, has caused pain to Tomer’s family by publishing his name and photo; two things the family expressly said they did not want to happen.
Your website has published far-fetched, unsubstantiated theories from dubious sources.
I have neither defended, nor condemned anyone, and I will patiently wait for the facts to come out before I do so.
I have not acted irresponsibly.
@ Amnon Tomer Eiges deserves no blame for his own death. The claim otherwise is deeply offensive. Blame lies solely with the IDF.
The parents’ letter to the IDF does not say they wish Tomer’s picture not be displayed . It says the picture of his grave hurts them.
The only way to create sympathy and understanding of the crime is by showing who the victim was. By humanizing him. Your claim that I not do this would hinder this. Israelis like you always abuse the claim of privacy rights in order to protect the powerful arm of state oppression. You will not do that here.
You have lied about my sources which are accurate and impeccable. You have not offered any proof of your claim about them. This violates my comment rules. Do this again and you will be moderated.
You are done in this thread. You offend me.
You say your sources are accurate and impeccable; in another comment, you wrote why your Russian Hackers theory was not panning out, that possibly not one, but TWO of your sources deliberately misled you, and you were simply going on the information given to you. Not here to offend, nor am I here to protects anyone’s ego. The information you are giving in this comment is directly contradictive to the other comments. It’s okay to admit that not all sources are accurate and impeccable. I follow Telegram channels in Arabic, Hebrew and Persian. Some sources are more reliable than others, while some I take with a grain of salt and extra research. Considering your sources misled you (for whatever reasons), by definition, they (the two sources that misled you) are absolutely far from accurate, impeccable or even reliable. I was telling my spouse what I read on your blog and the tragic story of this kid. Unfortunately, no one can substantiate what is written here over what is shared in Israeli or even foreign media. There are 4 photos of his total on Google (with or without a VPN or Tor), which is rather rare but not unheard of. Either way, it is hard to find accurate information – and by being contradictory, it only makes it harder for those seeking the truth, and beyond that, hoping for justice. My stepdaughter is on the same track, juggling university and entrance into 8200. Despite her excitement to work on the latest tech, it is hard not to worry about another cog in the machine being swept away.
@ Nathan: You clearly are not familiar with my blog and my record of accuracy. Over the course of 20 years of reporting I have filed nearly 1,000 stories, a number of which broke gag orders or censorship. All were based on reliable Israeli sources. But even when my main source was former defense Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer, people deliberately fed him inaccurate information. It comes with the territory. So for every 500 stories I publish, sometimes someone has a motive to mislead. I earnestly vet stories and sources. If I feel they pass the credibility test, I publish. If not, I don’t.
The only aspect of the 10,000 words I’ve published on Tomer Eiges which was likely wrong was the Russia connection. Nothing else I’ve published has been disproven. Nothing. So if you persist in focusing on the Russia report be my guest. But don’t ruin it for the rest of my audience who has the ability to balance things fairly and understand the complexity of what I’m doing in an environment where the State is trying to suppress the truth. And by the way, the sources who offered those false stories are part of that State apparatus. So if you want to blame anyone you’re looking in the wrong place. The proper address is your country’s security apparatus. But you wont’ because you have too much invested in being a loyal citizen of the national security state. And if you permit your daughter to serve in 8200 good luck to you and her. I just hope she comes home to you in the same way you sent her off the army; and not as Tomer did.
I just read Ronen Bergman’s abridged reporting in Ynet (I don’t have a subscription) where he writes that Tomer took 4 pills of his psychiatric medications that killed him. Having worked with psychiatric medications for decades I find this impossible to believe, and most professionals who work with these medications would agree. Yes, you can take a fatal overdose. But an overdose of of anti-depressants or anti-psychotic medications will NOT kill you quickly. Reasonably quick treatment can prevent death. The lies seem to continue.
@ Yankel: Yes, I agree. I can’t believe Bergman would have written that 4 pills of psychiatric medication would kill anyone. Likely this is a way to cover up the fact that the prison somehow let him horde his pills till he had enough accumulated to take a fatal dose. Also, until the IDF release the toxicology rpt (or if it does) we won’t know what was in his system and how much.
This I wholeheartedly agree and can attest to. I’ve been to Outpatient Psychiatric Programs and have met people with illnesses ranging from mild depression, schizophrenia, PTSD and much more. I’ve talked with these people, we have compared notes on doctors and medications and whatnot. Many of these people I would classify as normative, and some I would classify as unstable. On some medications, I myself have reached the prescribable limit. However, it would still take more than 4 pills to overdose, and as OP mentioned, it takes time and likely will cause stomach pains that would alert just about anyone to whats happened. So the story seems highly unlikely. To me, it is unheard of 4 pills that are strong enough to kill a man. Was he prescribed Cyanide or Polonium-210 with his antidepressants? The only plausible explanation for this haphazard overdose story.
How sad (or, more to the point, revealing) not a single person has the moral courage to break the silence and, even anonymously, make available the missing pieces of the jigsaw. I can’t remember which Israeli philosopher said it, but just after the 6 Day War it was said the occupation would bring a moral rot to Israeli society. How prescient. No doubt in my mind that the 6 Day War will be seen by historians as a tactical victory but a strategic defeat.