State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss submitted a sixchapter report to the
Knesset on Monday highlighting a string of failures in various government bodies
as well as in the Israel Police and the State Attorney’s Office.
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Lindenstrauss usually produces a single annual report in May, his office said
the State Comptroller published a second report this year because of an increase
in his office’s work.
The report identified and analyzed a wide range of
government activities and provided comprehensive critiques of their
shortcomings, as well as detailed recommendations on steps that should be taken
to rectify them.
Topics covered in the report include procedures carried
out by the police and the State Attorney’s Office to close criminal
investigation files deemed not to be in the public interest; the internal
workings of the Israel Bar Association; the Ministry of Environmental
Protection’s handling of stream rehabilitation; inter-ministerial special
committees; competition in the fuel markets; and a monitoring report into the
state of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai’s tomb at Mount Meron.
In one chapter,
the Israel Police and the State Attorney’s Office came under fire for closing “a
significant” proportion of criminal cases and choosing not to prosecute suspects
despite lacking a good basis for such a decision.
“Police misused their
authority to close cases due to a lack of public interest,” Lindenstrauss said
in the report.
The report criticized police for “closing cases without the proper authority”
and said that in some instance, officers “recommended closures in violation of
instructions by the attorney-general.”
Lindenstrauss criticized law
enforcement bodies for failing to prosecute cases involving drugs for self-use,
as stipulated in legislation passed in 1985.
The report also called on
the Attorney-General’s Office and prosecutors to develop “a central, unified,
updated policy” to inform decision-makers when they should shut cases and when
to prosecute, particularly in cases involving street violence, road rage and
violence in nightclubs, offenses that Lindenstrauss said “influenced the quality
of public life.”
In a chapter on Environmental Protection Ministry
efforts to rehabilitate the country’s 31 major streams, Lindenstrauss
recommended that this task be given greater priority in view of the considerable
work still required.
The report also made a set of recommendations,
including the allocation of more funding and improvement of coordination with
In a chapter on the Israel Bar Association,
Lindenstrauss criticized the organization’s legal aid program, “Schar
The pro bono program, established in 2002, provides legal aid
to those on a low income and is meant to complement assistance provided by the
Justice Ministry’s Legal Aid Bureau.
The State Comptroller said the
program needed to do more after his audit found that while the number of
applicants for services had more than tripled between 2005 and 2009, to 4,000
from 1,200, the number of people actually receiving representation increased
just to 244 from 234 in the same period.
The report also included a
special chapter on inter-ministerial committees established by government
decisions. Lindenstrauss’s audit revealed that government ministries had
established 650 such committees from 2005-2010.
The state comptroller
criticized many of the committees for being poorly-run, which he warned is
“damaging public confidence in government.”
The audit revealed that many
committees – particularly those in which several ministries were involved –
often did not complete work on time, found it difficult to reach agreements and
often did not discuss their recommendations. Frequently, this meant
recommendations were never implemented, a fact that Lindenstrauss slammed as a
“waste of resources.”
As an example, he said the Health Ministry had
failed for the past 15 years to determine its policy for reusing medical
equipment such as coronary catheters, which could save as much as NIS 70 million
Four committees of experts issued recommendations in 1995, 1997,
2001 and 2003, but the ministry did not decide what to do.
comptroller asked the Health Ministry to come up with a solution in 2004, there
is no estimated date set for resolving the issue, and hospitals continue to to
reuse disposable medical equipment without supervision or control, Lindenstrauss
said in the report.
The state comptroller also said infighting involving
government offices and stateowned companies was preventing the expansion of
competition in the fuel markets and the development of infrastructure at the
He said the National Infrastructures Ministry and Finance
Ministry still had not submitted a proposal to the government based on the
January 2010 recommendations of an inter-ministerial committee on barriers to
improving competition and infrastructure.
He also held the Transport
Ministry to account for delaying a bill on the development of infrastructure
that would ease the importation of refined fuels at the Haifa port.
his report into the state of the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, a Talmudic
sage of the second century CE, Lindenstrauss addressed ongoing concerns with the
facilities serving the pilgrimage site.
On Mount Meron in the Galilee, it
is the second-most-visited Jewish holy place in Israel after the Western Wall,
with 1.5 million visitors every year.
The infrastructure at the site is,
however, unsuited to the huge number of visitors, particularly on the
anniversary of the rabbi’s death during Lag Ba’omer, when the tomb is flooded
with hundreds of thousands of people.
The State Comptroller’s Report of
2008 highlighted a number of deficiencies in the site’s infrastructure,
including narrow access roads and footpaths, as well as unauthorized
refurbishments to the structures at the site and the illegal construction of
This year’s report points out that the unauthorized
building developments are structurally unstable but have still not been torn
down. It also emphasizes that despite a recommendation made in 2008, a body to
oversee the Lag Ba’omer celebrations at the grave has still not been
An underground causeway has been built to ease pedestrian
traffic, but vehicular access is still restricted, which is a concern for
Last month, the government decided to place the site
under the management of a special government body, supervised by the tourism
minister, which will now be responsible for the upkeep of the site and the
implementation of safety recommendations.