(photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE)
Following a summer fraught with war, rioting and at least two major police scandals, Jerusalem District Police commander Asst.-Ch. Yossi Pariente abruptly announced on Sunday that he will step down at the conclusion of his term later this year.
Pariente, a 30-year veteran who was widely believed to be a front runner to succeed Insp.-Gen. Yohanan Danino as the next chief of police, cited “personal reasons” for the resignation.
Reached for comment shortly after the announcement, a police official who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter said it was “unusual” that a veteran of Pariente’s standing would step down, but would not elaborate further.
Pariente will remain in his position until a replacement is formally named, the official said.
The announcement comes just two weeks after Central District commander Asst.-Ch. Bruno Stein – also once considered a contender to succeed Danino – announced his resignation amid accusations of consorting with a wellknown attorney embroiled in corruption charges.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch described the development as a “strategic threat” to the police’s ability to oversee public security and called for a prompt external appointment to “rehabilitate” the force’s “culture.”
“An external appointment is required to build a new corporate police culture,” Aharonovitch said in a brief statement.
Pariente’s resignation comes after a July YouTube video – depicting the savage east Jerusalem beating of Tariq Khdeir, 15, of Tampa, Florida, at the hands of police – drew international condemnation. Khdeir is the Palestinian-American cousin of revenge-slaying victim Muhammad Abu Khdeir, 16, whose murder by Jewish nationalists set off weeks of rioting.
Further inflaming already exceedingly tense Palestinian relations with police, earlier this month an autopsy report confirmed the disputed cause of death of Arab teen Muhammad Abd al-Majid Sunuqrut was due to a sponge-covered bullet to the head, directly contradicting police claims.
Police had contended that Sunuqrut was shot in the leg for throwing rocks at officers and then struck his head upon tripping while attempting to flee the scene of an August 31 riot in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz.
Word of Sunuqrut’s death set off a series of riots in Isawiya, culminating in the looting and near explosion of a French Hill petrol station targeted by masked Arab youths wielding firebombs and rocks.
Stein announced his resignation earlier this month on the heels of a Haaretz article claiming he attended a private party at the home of attorney Ronel Fisher, who is under investigation for bribing multiple police officials.
According to reports, Fisher asked Ashdod Port Union chief Alon Hassan – the target of corruption investigations himself – for the financing necessary to carry out the alleged bribes.
Following publication of the damning article, Danino accepted Stein’s resignation, though Stein will remain on duty until a successor is named, and Aharonovitch oversees an investigation into the affair.
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.