Yochanan Danino GOOD 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The High Court of Justice on Monday summoned police chief
Insp.-Gen. Yochanan Danino and the police’s head of Operations and
Investigations Branch, Cmdr. Yoav Seglovitch, to appear within 30 days and
provide an explanation for the closure of the Sa’ar Unit, which was tasked with
combating human trafficking.
The summons was made after a petition was
filed to the court by Knesset Member Orit Zuaretz (Kadima), chairwoman of the
Knesset Committee for Combatting Women Trafficking together with the Kav Laoved
Worker’s Hotline and the Hotline for Migrant Workers.
“I believe that the
unusual decision by the court to invite the police commissioner and the head of
police investigations branch to explain the closure of the unit will change the
intolerable reality that was created,” Zuaretz said after Monday’s High Court
The High Court panel of three judges expressed its objection to
the closure and cited negative social and international consequences that would
“This is an issue of police priorities,” said Justice Dorit
Beinisch. “The closure means lowering the priority for dealing with the
issue...after years of work, the wheel cannot be turned back. After this
level of achievement, is this the moment to change that?” she added.
June, members of the committee expressed alarm over the closure of
Police had announced the unit’s officers would be moved around to
local police stations. The committee said the change would significantly harm
Israel’s efforts against human trafficking.
Seglovitch said in June there
was a disadvantage in keeping the unit in its current, concentrated form, as
“this means we don’t deal with peripheral areas. We thought it would be
important for us to have a grasp on the ground [in the periphery]. We are
trying to increase enforcement in the North, and we are setting up fortified
central units to further that aim.”
But Avital Rosenberg, who heads the
Taskforce for Human Trafficking, warned if Israel’s position fell in the US
State Department’s international ranking of countries that fight human
trafficking, “this will have economic impacts. Today, Israel is perceived in the
world as a leader in change. The orientation around the victims by the Sa’ar
unit is new and not the norm in the world. They are coming from all over the
world to study what we are doing, due to Sa’ar’s success.”