A new Tel Aviv district police commander officially entered the position at a ceremony on Wednesday, replacing officer Ami Eshed, who resigned from the force after being demoted over what he said were political motives.
Eshed was replaced by officer Peretz Omer at a ceremony attended by National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Police chief Kobi Shabtai. Shabtai is also expected to finish his tenure in January.
Protesters from the Kaplan Force said that Eshed was being replaced because he had remembered his duty to protect the public. The protest group wished success to Omer and called on him to remember to also protect the right to demonstrate.
Eshed resigned earlier this month
The former Tel Aviv commander resigned on July 5, ending a dispute between him and Ben-Gvir that began on March 9 when he was informed that he would be relocated to a lower position in a rotation of appointments.
In a press conference, Eshed claimed that the decision was made because he had refused orders to employ harsher force against anti-judicial reform protesters.
“I confess before you the terrible sin, the sin of not being able to meet the expectations of the ministerial level, which included breaking the rules, procedures, chain of command and blatant interference in decision-making and operational discretion,” Eshed in his resignation speech. “I could easily live up to these expectations, exert unreasonable force and fill the emergency room in Ichilov at the end of every demonstration in Tel Aviv.”
While the Attorney-General's Officer temporarily froze the move and told Ben-Gvir that he could not use appointments as a cudgel to influence ongoing police operations, Eshed said that he decided not to cooperate with the position reshuffle. He called the move “artificial” and a “political impeachment,” leading him to resign.
Ben-Gvir and other coalition members said that Eshed's public resignation crossed boundaries by turning the police force political. Opposition members such as Merav Michaeli said that the coalition was removing independence from the police and turning law enforcement into a political police force.
The Kaplan Force said on Wednesday that the Israel Police were supposed to be independent, and the role of the National Security Minister was only to establish general policy, but the legislative changes proposed by Ben-Gvir sought to fundamentally change the role of the force.