By GREER FAY CASHMAN AND REBECCA ANNA STOIL
In a series of ceremonies that echoed the transfer of power less than three months ago between IDF chiefs of General Staff, the Israel Police's leadership switched Tuesday from the hands of Moshe Karadi to those of David Cohen.
The ceremonies were bittersweet for the police organization, after - as in the case of the IDF - the former commander was forced to depart prematurely under a storm of public criticism.
In the first ceremony of the day, at the Prime Minister's Office, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Public Security Minister Avi Dichter placed the chevron and two clusters of the rank inspector-general on Cohen's shoulders.
Olmert was visibly weary as he took the podium to compliment Karadi and to wish good luck to Cohen.
The shadow of the Winograd Report was never far from the day's festivities. In the middle of the ceremony, an aide passed a note to Olmert informing him of Minister-without-Portfolio Eitan Cabel's resignation. The prime minister smiled slightly, and proceded to tear the note into shreds.
During the next ceremony, held at Beit Hanassi, Acting President Dalia Itzik seemed to send a message to Olmert when she told Karadi that his departure from office was premature, but that it contributed to the norms and leadership values of the State of Israel. "You did what was in your perception the right thing," she said, referring to Karadi's resignation in reaction to the Zeiler Commission's report. "It was an admirable decision that exacted a heavy personal price."
Itzik spoke to Karadi's commitment, sense of responsibility and outstanding service to the nation. Itzik said that she had heard so much criticism of the police, especially by the media, that she decided to say only positive things "because you don't hear it often enough. You deserve a great deal of praise."
Addressing Cohen, Itzik told him that he was taking command during a period of confusion, error and stock taking, and assured him that despite the criticisms that have been leveled against the police, "the people of Israel have confidence in you and all of Israel prays for your success."
Minutes after that ceremony was concluded, Karadi and Cohen were whisked away for the final ceremony of a busy day. The two crossed Jerusalem to the front plaza of the police's national headquarters, where an honor guard, the police band and hundreds of blue- and green-clad police watched the official transfer of command.
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