PM chides police for weak response to attacks against elderly

Asks justice minister to push for harsher punishments for convicted attackers.

old woman beaten (photo credit: Channel 2)
old woman beaten
(photo credit: Channel 2)
Insp.-Gen. David Cohen attended the cabinet meeting on Sunday, defending police crime fighting while taking a few verbal punches from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert over the police's ability to protect the nation's elderly. "You closed 685 cases of violence against the elderly this year due to lack of public interest," said Olmert during the meeting. "I'm not criticizing you, since I'm not aware of the circumstances of each case, but as a phenomenon this is growing." Data presented by police at the weekly cabinet meeting showed that 1,978 elderly citizens had been attacked since the beginning of 2007 - a 24 percent increase over last year. "These are unprecedented [acts of] evil against people who can't defend themselves," Olmert said. "We can not afford this as a society. The government must work on the subject." Olmert suggested that those who suffered such attacks be exempt from paying the medical bills associated with their injuries, and asked Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann to push for harsher punishments for convicted attackers. The news at the meeting was not all negative, however, with Cohen reporting an 18 percent drop in murders this year. Cohen also reiterated the police's plan to get the so-called Israeli FBI up and running on the first day of 2008, with a current roster of 980 police officers from the International and Serious Crimes Unit, the National Financial Crimes Unit, the National Fraud Squad, the Etgar auto theft task force and the Gidonim antiterrorism commando unit. "We have to decide that 2008 is the year of increasing the deterrent effect of the lone police officer," said Public Security Minister Avi Dichter during the meeting. Dichter also acknowledged that there has been a large increase in the number of crimes in which criminals used weapons such as grenades, explosives and firearms. "Most of these weapons are stolen from IDF bases. I call on the IDF to increase the guard over weaponry," he said. Dichter also repeated his remonstrations against smuggling through Israel's border with Egypt, complaining about the large number of people crossing that border. Meanwhile, police continued their crackdown against criminal elements in the Negev city of Dimona following last week's torching of a policeman's private vehicle. Police said that there was a visibly increased police presence in the city over the weekend and throughout the beginning of the week, and added that a large number of police personnel were also operating undercover in the city, including detectives.