Menashe Arbiv, the head of the elite Lahav 433 unit of the Israel Police, announced his resignation on Sunday, amid a scandal involving allegations that he and/or people close to him took bribes from Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto or people close to the rabbi.
Last month Arbiv took a leave of absence following publication of the case against him, and on Sunday he said his leave would be permanent after 36 years as a police officer.
“I cannot continue to cope with the behavior of the justice system, of which I was an inseparable part for years, which is tarring and feathering me and my family,” Arbiv said Sunday.
Arbiv alleged that he had invited police to call him in for questioning so he could answer the charges against him, adding that they had dismissed the request.
Referring to Rabbi Pinto, he said, “It turns out that a man who is suspected of severe crimes and who is facing a serious indictment, turned to his lawyers and the attorney-general and came up with false information to avoid facing a trial.”
In mid-January, it was cleared for publication that Arbiv, whose former unit is popularly called “the Israeli FBI,” is the subject of a probe by the Justice Ministry unit that investigates crimes by police.
The allegations deal with the time that Arbiv was serving as Israel Police attaché in Washington D.C.
Pinto’s lawyers have approached the ministry offering information on alleged bribery and improper actions taken by top police officials, in exchange for leniency.
The ministry said it would review the information and that if it were of sufficient interest – meaning it could lead to criminal charges – it would grant the rabbi some measure of leniency, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
The information pertaining to Arbiv’s involvement was revealed in mid-January when the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court granted a request of several Hebrew media outlets to remove the gag order on the “severe scandal.”
Pinto is a well-known rabbi both in Israel and the US, a descendant of two Sephardi rabbinical dynasties, and the founder of the Shuva Israel Yeshiva. He was listed as the seventh-richest rabbi in Israel last year by Forbes Israel and has served as an adviser to a group of Israel’s elite.
Last month, the Movement for the Quality of Government in Israel said that failing to indict Pinto would set a problematic precedent whereby corrupt persons would increase efforts to bribe law-enforcement officers in an attempt to develop a back-up “insurance policy” that could help them avoid prosecution, should their crimes be revealed.
Following Arbiv’s announcement on Sunday, the Justice Ministry said that it does not have any comment to make for the time being.