Sau to stay on to aid police chief transition

Erdan to meet families of fallen soldiers; Turkel Commission to convene on Tuesday.

August 28, 2015 02:11
2 minute read.
Gal Hirsch

PROTESTERS DEMONSTRATE last night outside of Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan’s home. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SHOSHANI)


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Outgoing acting police commissioner Bentzi Sau announced Thursday night that he would stay on for four months to assist newly appointed Insp.-Gen. Gal Hirsch, in his transition to taking charge of the country’s top law enforcement position.

While Sau had earlier indicated he would quit as of September 1, he has agreed to stay until January 1 to aid Hirsch as he adjusts to the job. Sau said he decided to do so at the request of Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who chose Hirsch in consultation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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“I feel a moral and public responsibility, and therefore I feel obligated to help the minister complete this appointment and help Hirsch’s transition to the position of police chief as much as I can,” he said. “This organization has a standard and I won’t abandon it at this time. I am part of this institution, and I believe in it, and therefore I am postponing my personal plans for four months because of my commitment to the police.”

The announcement was interpreted by portions of the media as an attempt to calm the heavy criticism of appointing an outsider, who was an IDF brigadier-general but has never served in the police, to run the nation’s law enforcement organization.

Despite the announcement, dozens of family members of fallen soldiers from the Second Lebanon War gathered to protest Hirsch’s appointment outside Erdan’s house on Thursday evening.

The protesters argued that the appointment “is a despicable move and it should be legally disqualified. We are willing to have an open conversation with the minister and recommend a more worthy procedure for selecting a new police chief than the one that led to Hirsch.”

Controversy surrounds Hirsch’s role as an IDF commander during that war, and though the state’s Winograd Commission cleared Hirsch’s conduct as a commander and said that an injustice had been done to him, many of the families whose loved ones died under his command have not forgiven him.

During the demonstration, reports surfaced that Erdan had agreed to meet with representatives of the families on Friday in his office. The announcement ended the protest.

The Turkel Committee, which overseas appointments of senior civil service officials, is set to meet on Tuesday to begin the vetting process for Hirsch. Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein needs to approve the decision, but both are expected to do so. The bereaved parents as well as a group of former police chiefs are expected to appear before the committee to register their opposition.

Despite the criticism for many sectors, Erdan has called Hirsch “an excellent and valued officer who led changes and reforms in every unit he commanded. I am convinced that Gal is the most appropriate candidate at this time to lead the changes necessary in the Israel Police and to increase trust in it.

“Together with the Israel Police officers and experienced senior commanders, Gal will promote important reforms to increase the personal security of Israel’s citizens and improve their quality of life.”

Netanyahu has heavily backed the appointment, with it appearing that he and Erdan wanted an outsider to clear the police’s reputation following a series of corruption and sexual harassment scandals of top police officials over the last year.

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