Retired IDF brigadier general Gal Hirsch, a controversial former candidate to be Israel’s top cop, announced Tuesday the formation of a new political party that will run in the April 9 elections.
The party will be called Magen Israel, or “Shield of Israel,” and Hirsch held the first gathering of party activists and supporters on Monday, Hebrew-language media reported.
He followed three other former senior army officers who have launched political parties ahead of the national vote.
On Sunday, former IDF Major-General Yom Tov Samia launched the B’Yahad party — an acronym for the Hebrew words for “security, Israel, social, democratic.” From 2001 to 2003, Samia was head of the IDF Southern Command.
Over the past two weeks, former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz registered his Israel Resilience party — so far considered the only contender of the four likely to win a significant number of seats — and former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, also previously the IDF chief, launched his Telem party.
Hirsch announced last week he would enter politics. He did not say which party he would join, but media assessments linked him to a yet-to-be-announced party or the ruling Likud.
Hirsch has faced numerous controversies in recent years linked to his business interests — concerns that torpedoed his nomination for police commissioner in 2015.
Police and the Israel Tax Authority are expected to recommend indicting Hirsch on tax evasion, Hebrew media reported last week, two days after he announced he would run for Knesset.
Hirsch reacted angrily to the reports and called it a “predictable response” to his announcement.
“It appears we are watching a rerun,” he said at the time. “The same police that three and a half years ago illegally thwarted my candidacy for the role of police commissioner are now even trying to thwart my candidacy for the Knesset through the same improper means and leaks that are completely unsubstantiated.”
Hirsch claimed police were trying to pin “baseless” tax charges on him in order to justify their initial decision to investigate him.