The security establishment urgently needs to know what exactly Elhanan Tannenbaum revealed to Hizbullah about the secret military project in which he was involved in his reserve duty. After he fell into captivity, the IDF took immediate steps to contain the damage, but this was not enough. It is feared that sensitive details were passed on to Hizbullah, and may have been handed on to Syria and Iran. As long as Tannenbaum maintains his silence, Israel cannot know precisely what leaked.
This is the background for the quick solution that the State Attorney’s Office is now working out with the man who returned from captivity: Tannenbaum will finally break his silence and tell what he revealed to Hizbullah-and will be able to return to his family.
Those who dealt with the affair codenamed “Genius,” the affair of Tannenbaum’s trip to Lebanon and his abduction by Hizbullah, are convinced that he gave up extensive security information. This assessment is based on Tannenbaum’s conduct in the interrogation, the questions in which the polygraph test showed him to be a “liar” and additional information from other sources.
The importance of the information to which Tannenbaum was exposed in the IDF was what stimulated Israel to bring him back as soon as possible, and at such a high price. Covert talks on a plea bargain began over the past four days between Tannenbaum’s attorneys, the State Attorney’s Office, the GSS and the police. It is a complex deal. As of now, Tannenbaum has not refuted suspicions that he went to Lebanon in order to sell Hizbullah security information. His repeated failures in the polygraph test only increased this suspicion. The GSS demands to pose a condition for the plea bargain: After Tannenbaum gives what he calls the full and real version, he will undergo a polygraph test to refute the suspicion that he was involved willingly in offenses of espionage and treason. The bitter joke circulating among the investigative officials in recent days is that like the code name of the entire affair, “Genius,” it appears that the affair’s protagonist, Tannenbaum, will turn out to be a real genius when he succeeds in getting away with everything he has done.
Tannenbaum’s attorneys, Eli Zohar and Roi Belcher, refused last night to comment on the emerging deal. Tannenbaum’s associates said that due to the leaks from the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Tannenbaum will increase cooperation with his interrogators and make an effort to end the affair. They stressed that he did not go to Lebanon willingly.
Sources close to the investigation said that the talks on a deal are only at their outset. They said that Tannenbaum is the only one who can now provide a full version as to the past three years, and therefore they are compelled to cooperate with his demands. Meanwhile, the police will request tomorrow to extend Col. (res.) Elhanan Tannenbaum’s stay at the Neurim police facility for the purpose of his continued interrogation. In their previous petition to the court, the investigators requested an extension of the remand by 15 additional days, but the deputy president of the Magistrates Court in Petah Tikva, Noga Ohad, gave them only ten days.
This article ran in Yediot Ahronot, February 2004