(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has requested an urgent meeting with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein in order to protest what he and senior police commanders call “unacceptable” treatment of police officials during Knesset hearings.
In a letter penned to Edelstein on Monday entitled “the treatment of police representatives in Knesset committees,” Erdan said police “deal with an unacceptable situation from week to week when they visit Knesset committee meetings.” He called for Edelstein to meet with him urgently “so that situations like this do not repeat themselves.”
Edelstein is currently in London, returning to Israel on Friday.
The letter sent by Erdan followed one his ministry received from National Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich, in which he expressed his dismay at the situation.
Erdan’s request for a meeting with Edelstein comes a few weeks after a meeting of the Knesset State Control Committee which dealt with the treatment of Ethiopian-Israelis by the Israel Police. That meeting was held one day after the Justice Ministry announced they had closed the criminal case against officers accused of abusing Ethiopian-Israeli youth Yosef Salamsa, who later committed suicide.
During the hearing, Farnus Salamsa, Yosef’s mother, lost her patience and shouted at the head of the police manpower branch, Asst.-Ch. Gila Gaziel, telling her to “shut her mouth” and listen to the pain of her and her children. Salamsa shouted at Gaziel just after the commander began her comments to the committee, which included that she felt “the police are being defamed” by speakers at the meeting.
On Tuesday, Yesh Atid MK Karin Elharar, head of the State Control Committee, said: “a sensitive meeting like that dealing with the death of a young man, Yosef Salamsa, raised no shortage of emotions and anger from the families and the guests at the meeting.” She said she had “no intention to harm police commanders or the important work they carry out and I apologize if they felt disrespected.”
Police have many times in the past dealt with harsh questioning when they attend Knesset hearings dealing with law and order issues – and in particular those dealing with matters of a highly sensitive nature, including relations between police and the Ethiopian-Israeli community.