Police chief, public security minister attempt to explain Bar-Lev sacking to High Court
By YAAKOV LAPPIN
Public Security Minister Avi Dichter and Israel Police Insp.-Gen. David Cohen submitted statements to the High Court of Justice on Sunday, explaining the sacking of Southern Police District head Cmdr. Uri Bar-Lev last year.
Bar-Lev, who was seen as one of the police's most outstanding district commanders, was dismissed by Cohen in late August after turning down an offer of a study leave.
He has since petitioned the High Court to cancel his firing, saying there was no need for him to go on study leave as he already holds two degrees. Many in the police view an offer of study leave as an attempt to push out senior officers who are no longer wanted by the inspector-general.
In separate statements submitted by Dichter and Cohen, both men blamed Bar-Lev for the sacking, saying he "left them no option but to remove him from his post."
"According to the legal advice I have received, the decision to fire the petitioner [Bar-Lev] from the force was legal and reasonable, since his conduct made him unsuitable for his position, and caused a crisis in trust so severe that it was clear that he could not continue to serve under my command," Cohen wrote.
Cohen added that Bar-Lev's future in the police "would not have come up at all" had he agreed to go on study leave.
Dichter backed Cohen's stance, saying "there are occasions when the head of an organization must act, and cannot bury his head in the sand and show restraint, even if this results in criticism and harms his good name... As someone who heads a hierarchical organization, I could not come to terms with a situation in which... an officer publicly challenges my authority."
Bar-Lev is credited with a significant reduction of crime in the Southern District, and forging innovative ways for police to cooperate with local authorities. His firing was viewed by some as a measure taken by Cohen against a man he feared threatened his authority.
Bar-Lev's lawyer, Yaakov Neeman, refused to comment, saying his reply would be submitted to the High Court in due course.
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