(Communicated by the IDF Spokesman)
Following the incident on August 4, 2005 in which four Israeli citizens – Hazer and Dina Turkey, Michel Bachus and Nader Haik were murdered in a terror attack carried out by soldier Eden Nathan Zaada, the IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, appointed a special team, headed by Brig. Gen. (Res.) Eika Abarbanel to investigate the incident.
In their investigation, the team examined the role of the IDF in the circumstances surrounding the incident, and not with regards to the incident itself. This is due to the law of the Israel Security Agency (ISA) which stipulates that general responsibility for thwarting acts of terror inside of Israel lies solely with the ISA. Therefore, the IDF is not responsible for gathering intelligence information on soldiers or prospective recruits regarding any potential for carrying out a terror attack or engaging in activities meant to undermine the state.
The team’s investigation found gaps and deficiencies with regards to the cooperation between the two organizations (the IDF and the ISA) and with regards to the flow of information inside the IDF and the manner in which the military operates as an integrative organization.
The investigation team noted that with regards to its management of personnel, the IDF does not operate as a system in which information held by one military department is shared correctly with other departments and therefore this information may fail to influence decision making.
In the incident of Eden Nathan Zaada, the information was not analyzed correctly and therefore, several facts which may have arisen from a correct analysis and led to the discharge of the soldier or his imprisonment for desertion were not pieced together.
This information includes, among other details: the soldier’s psychological profile which had been determined by an official in the mental health department, the overall period of time the soldier spent in military prison since he was drafted and the manner in which his unit handled his absence.
This having been said, the investigation team emphasized that based on the current parameters and variables relayed to the IDF by the ISA even if the information had been properly shared between the different military departments and later analyzed correctly, there is no indication of anything that might have alerted the system that the soldier possessed the potential for carrying out a terror attack, or an extremist violent act of this magnitude.
The team recommended a series of changes to be effective immediately. The purpose of these changes is to increase the probability of locating a potentially dangerous individual within the IDF by preventing the loss of crucial information through problematic points in the system.
These recommendations first and foremost indicate the need for improved cooperation between the IDF and ISA with regards to defining the variables used to determine profiles of those serving in the security forces and updating the work procedures between the two organizations regarding those issues. In addition to these steps, further steps must be taken to centralize information within the IDF in a better manner, and to improve the sharing of information between the various levels of command.
The investigation team recommended a reorganization of all military and civilian security information collection methods into one synchronized method while centralizing the information shared between the different army bodies within the limitations of privacy laws and field security regulations.
In addition the team recommended providing means designed to aid commanders in identifying soldiers who may require treatment and/or soldiers who should be monitored throughout their military service (soldiers with a problematic mental status or a criminal record), implementation of early analysis of both female recruits and recruits who have recently immigrated to Israel, to consider allowing psychiatrists to determine a psychological profile without a medical board, reconsider the IDF policy of allowing soldiers to carry with them their personal weapons while on leave and to update the military’s procedures with regards to conscientious objection to service, and association with extremist groups.
The IDF Chief of Staff, who received the findings of the investigation team on August 12, 2005, noted the depth and comprehensiveness of the team’s investigation and accepted all of its recommendations. The Chief of Staff views the gaps in the cooperation between the two organizations (the IDF and ISA) and in the flow of information and its analysis within the IDF as the primary issues dealt within the investigation. With regards to the problematic flow of information the Chief of Staff noted that information is meant to be used. If there are limitations in the information flow within the system that cause more damage than benefit then it is crucial for them to be removed. When determining the balance between an individual’s right to privacy and the ability to offer treatment to individuals in need of it, the final result must provide commanders with the relevant information regarding their soldiers on all necessary levels.
The Chief of Staff emphasized that information systems are not a condition for the flow of information but rather a support system for that flow. The existing systems must be used to make sure that the relevant information is indeed relayed to the commanders. With regards to the IDF recruitment policy, the Chief of Staff noted that in finding the balance between maintaining the IDF as the ”people’s army" and determining regulated minimal individual requirements it is important to operate within the given reality of these requirements and relevant draft needs. Simultaneously, the IDF must work to decrease encumbered and redundant systems regarding committees responsible for making decisions and trying appeals in order to improve the process in all aspects of recruitment, discharges, and the alteration of profiles.
The Chief of Staff has ordered the implementation of the investigation team’s recommendations and ordered the Head of the Manpower Branch to present a plan for the implementation of these recommendations by the end of September 2005.
The Chief of Staff thanked the members of the investigation team for their work. The Chief of Staff again expresses on behalf of the IDF his condolences to the families of the victims of the shooting attack in Shfaram.
After presenting the conclusions of their investigation to the Chief of Staff, the investigation team met with the head of the correlating investigation team in the ISA. During their meeting, the main issues discussed in the IDF team’s investigation and the parallel relevant issues discussed in the ISA investigation were presented. Directly following the incident both the IDF and ISA have agreed to immediately implement several of the team’s recommendations.