Police accused of withholding information on sex crimes to boost public image

The Haaretz report cites several cases of alleged rape and sexual assault in which the police did not issue a statement.

Israeli Police (photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE)
Israeli Police
(photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE)
Israel police spokespersons have refrained from reporting sexual assaults and rapes to the media over the last two weeks in an attempt to highlight security-oriented stories, according to a Haaretz report last Wednesday. The report points a finger at Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Insp. Gen Roni Alsheikh for issuing the orders, however, both MK Erdan and the police have refuted the report as baseless.
According to sources in the spokesperson’s unit, cited by Haaretz journalist Yaniv Kubovich, the police were told to direct the media’s attention to “positive aspects” of policing, including three main issues: Palestinians found illegally inside Israel, confiscation of illegal weapons in Arab-Israeli communities and uncovering drug stockpiles.
MK Erdan vehemently denied the report and chastised Haaretz for not seeking a response from the Minister. “Haaretz again published false news about a fictional ‘directive’ given to the police spokespersons. No such thing happened,” he stated on his Twitter account, “the reporter did not even ask for comment.”
Besides undisclosed sources, the Haaretz report cites several cases of alleged rape and sexual assault in which the police did not issue a statement. One such case allegedly happened in mid-August at the Allenby 40 Cub in Tel Aviv. Allegedly a woman was raped in the bathroom stall, a suspect was arrested, and police shut down the club on August 16th, yet they did not issue any statement.
The police also did not issue a statement on a severe rape case – the alleged rape of a minor girl in the Tel Aviv central bus station, although a suspect from Kiryat Malakhi was arrested in connection on August 12th.
According to the Police Spokesperson’s Unit the media was not informed of the alleged rape cases to protect the victims involved. “In general, the police policy is to issue every event happening in full transparency while maintaining a balance between the public's right to know and the privacy of victims who are minors and traumatized enough,” the Police Spokesperson Unit told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
The Haaretz report argued that police would normally issue a statement to the media regarding such rape cases to assist the police in an effort to locate witnesses or other victims.
However, according to the police, publication does not always assist an investigation and can potentially jeopardize an investigation. “In addition, it is taken into account investigative considerations that advertisement does not interrupt the investigation and prevent bringing the harmful perpetrators to justice,” the Police Spokesperson Unit said.