Police feud between Cohen, Bar-Lev rages on

Cohen wants Uri-Bar Lev to return certificate of recognition to Rahat; Rahat mayor: I feel like I've been slapped in the face.

bar-lev 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
bar-lev 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Israel Police Insp.-Gen. David Cohen on Tuesday ordered Cmdr. Uri-Bar Lev, head of the Southern District, to return a certificate of recognition to the Beduin city of Rahat. Cohen's order ensured that relations between Bar-Lev and Cohen would continued to be acrimonious, after Public Security Minister Avi Dichter blocked the police chief's attempt to fire Bar-Lev via e-mail. Cohen's e-mail was part of a reshuffling of senior police commanders, a process some say was marked by irregularities stemming from the police chief's desire to help out cronies. Rahat Mayor Talal al-Krenawi said he was deeply offended by not being allowed to thank Bar-Lev for his services to the city. "I feel like I've been slapped in the face," Krenawi said. "I gave this certificate not because of any personal interest, but because of what Bar-Lev and the police have done for the Beduin in the Negev. The certificate was not covered in gold or platinum, it was a NIS 20 piece of cardboard. I refuse to take it back." Krenawi said Bar-Lev had succeeded in drastically cutting crime by enlarging the city's police force and upgrading the tools at its disposal. "People's sense of security has gone up. Four years ago, the municipality could not find an insurance company willing to ensure us. Today we are paying NIS 250,000 for insurance, far less than the premium we were stuck with in the past. Thefts and break-ins across the city are down. Once, people were afraid to walk here in the dark. Today people leave their cars unlocked," the mayor said. "The sense of security is what is helping the economy here to grow." Krenawi telephoned Dichter on Tuesday, telling him he was unprepared to take it back. "The police regulations say officers can't receive certificates from private corporations. I am not a private corporation. I gave that certificate on behalf of the public municipality of Rahat," he said. Dichter told Krenawi that he would look into the possibility of changing the text on the certificate so that it would be addressed to the police rather than to Bar-Lev. Krenawi commented on the recent police brass reshuffle, which has left Bar-Lev without a command to take up after he leaves the South, despite the fact that he has eight years until he hits retirement age. "This is very unfortunate, to lose someone like Bar-Lev. I think the Israeli Police will need years to produce someone with Bar-Lev's quality. This is a shame," the Rahat mayor said. On Wednesday, Bar-Lev will meet with Dichter, but "he is not placing too much hope on the meeting," a source close to Bar-Lev said. "Two questions will be raised during the meeting: Did Cohen try to fire Bar-Lev, and if so on what grounds? Second, did Dichter know about Cohen's letter in advance or not?" the source asked. In the meantime, the district chief has been receiving calls from "rabbis, mayors, and businessmen, all offering their support."