(photo credit: FACEBOOK)
The Turkel Committee on senior government appointments held its first proceedings on Tuesday regarding the nomination of IDF Brig.-Gen.(res.) Gal Hirsch to lead the Israel Police.
Hirsch, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who nominated Hirsch, and former police chief Yohanan Danino all testified before the committee, named for its chairman, former Supreme Court justice Jacob Turkel.
Sources said Hirsch and Erdan supported the nomination, while Danino argued against it, in favor of having his successor be selected from within the ranks of the police, which people close to the committee and the Prime Minister’s Office would neither confirm nor deny.
On Sunday, Erdan announced that he and Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein had agreed to extend the term of the police’s acting inspector-general, Asst.-Ch.
Bentzi Sau, by 45 days, to provide more time to vet Hirsch, amid the growing storm surrounding his appointment.
The extension could indicate that Erdan is standing by his decision to appoint Hirsch – or that he hopes to gain time to find a replacement.
Since Erdan announced Hirsch’s appointment a week ago, critics, including former and current police officials, have expressed anger at the choice of someone who never served in the organization, and bereaved families whose loved ones were killed in the Second Lebanon War, when Hirsch commanded the Galilee Division, have voiced dismay at the decision.
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But a greater obstacle for Hirsch is related to his security firm, Defensive Shield, which has been accused of corruption in relation to a former Georgian defense minister who is the subject of an international probe.
On Tuesday night, Channel 10 explained that if there is a link to the corruption charge, it involves Oded Shachnai, who is connected both with a company under investigation as well as with Hirsch’s company.
Channel 10 interviewed Georgian lawyers and politicians, who said that the charges in Georgia were trumped up for political reasons and that Hirsch was a bystander caught in the crossfire.
There has been no clear evidence of wrongdoing by Hirsch involving the case, and on Monday he criticized “the campaign of defamation and leaks to the press” that is harming his reputation.
He said that he and those supporting him are not in any way responsible for “any claims made against the police or the Investigations Branch and its commander, Asst.-Ch. [Meni] Yitzhaki,” adding that he doesn’t agree with the claims.
That statement came a day after his attorney, Dror Brotfeld, lashed out at police officials in a series of interviews, mentioning Yitzhaki by name and accusing him of having a vested interest in sullying Hirsch’s name.
Brotfeld asked why, if police had information on Hirsch, they waited to submit it to the attorney-general only after his nomination, although Weinstein clarified on Sunday that the information was sent to him by a foreign law enforcement agency, and not by the Israel Police.
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