Dichter holds emergency session to discuss latest police promotion scandal

The latest scandal involves Subdistrict Commander Asst.-Cmdr. Ya'akov Zigdon on the matter of ethical behavior.

Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter held a crisis meeting Thursday evening with the General Command Staff of the Israel Police to discuss the latest scandal shaking the upper echelon of the Israel Police, and its implications for the way that senior police officers are promoted. The Israel Police has been rocked throughout the past year by a seemingly incessant flood of scandals involving top-level officers resorting to bribery, threats and discrediting their co-workers to gain promotions. The latest scandal was revealed late Wednesday night when the Justice Department's Police Investigative Department confirmed that it had questioned Amakim Subdistrict Commander Asst.-Cmdr. Ya'akov Zigdon "on the subject of ethical behavior." The PID also confirmed that Zigdon had been ordered not to enter his office on Thursday, during which time it is likely that investigators searched his computer and files. The PID is also looking into the actions of another two police officers as part of the larger investigation. Zigdon is suspected of soliciting help from politicians to influence his promotion and of receiving bribes. Police from the National Fraud Squad's northern desk stumbled across the case against Zigdon during a wiretap in a second high-profile case involving corruption, this time with regard to alleged bribery in the Rabbinic Courts. In that case, "H," a Shas activist who was arrested Monday, was allegedly involved in speeding up rabbinic court cases in exchange for bribes. Police said that while they were listening in to H's phone conversations, the activist had multiple conversations with Zigdon, during at least one of which the two allegedly discussed H's ability to speak with politicians to influence Zigdon's chances for promotion. H allegedly cited his close relationships with ministers, and offered to work for Zigdon's advancement. Police investigators are still trying to determine whether the "ministers" - actually one current MK and former minister and one current minister - were involved in either case. Zigdon was absent from his Afula office following the investigation, after he received orders from the national police headquarters to voluntarily take a leave of absence, but officers in the subdistrict said that his leave of absence would end on Sunday. The police have been plagued by a series of similar allegations concerning ethical misconduct in the appointment and promotion of senior officers. Among the officers who have been accused of such misconduct were Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi, Asst.-Cmdr. Yoram Levy, Asst.-Cmdr. Amir Gur and Cmdr. (ret) Yaakov Borovsky, all of whom were part of the mud-slinging fest surrounding the Zeiler Commission's inquiry. Since taking office, Dichter has pushed for a standardization of terms of office and promotions within the Israel Police, arguing that the organization should mirror similar procedures in the IDF and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency). As early as his first statement as Internal Security minister, Dichter said that normalizing the promotion cycle within the police force was necessary for greater administrative accountability. During his Thursday night meeting, Dichter was said to have discussed the recent scandals as examples of the need for such a policy change.