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Father Seeking Answers over Soldier’s Suicide

August 22, 1989
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The father of an Israel Defense Force reservist who killed himself while under investigation for the death of an Arab prisoner has demanded an official inquiry.

Rami Bar-Yosef wants a special commission established to probe the circumstances surrounding the suicide of his son Yariv, who shot himself in the head with an Uzi submachine gun last Thursday morning.

Appearing on a television program Sunday, Bar-Yosef said Yariv killed himself just hours before his next scheduled session with military police investigators.

He left a note expressing fear that he would be made a scapegoat for the death of Hani el-Shami, who died in the IDF detention compound at the Jabalya refugee camp in August 1988.

El-Shami died of internal hemorrhaging. The pathologist’s report said he had a dozen broken ribs, a cracked sternum and a punctured lung.

Testimony at the trial of Yariv Bar-Yosef and four other soldiers of the Givati Brigade indicated the injuries were caused by karate blows or kicks.

Bar-Yosef admitted kicking el-Shami lightly in the shoulder while wearing sandals.

Although the four other soldiers were recently acquitted, Bar-Yosef was repeatedly called for further questioning.

His suicide note expressed fear of publicity “in a small country which consumes its people.”

An IDF spokesman pointed out Monday that the note contained no complaints of ill treatment by military police. But the suicide’s father questioned their methods.

His request for a review of military police methods was supported by Knesset member Geula Cohen of the Tehiya party.

In addition to the suicide note, Bar-Yosef wrote a note to his younger brother, who was about to be inducted into the IDF.

He cautioned him to “remember, as an ordinary soldier you won’t get the backing of your superiors sitting high up somewhere in the military and political establishment, because everyone of them is watching out for his own ass so it doesn’t get burned.”

The 25-year-old reservist, who had completed his annual tour of duty, was studying political science and economics at the Hebrew University and worked as a security guard in Jerusalem.

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