Retired police chiefs vow to block commissioner appointment

Retired police chiefs vow to block commissioner appointment

Former top cops say they’ll turn to PM over ‘delusional’ decision to bring in outside candidate Gal Hirsch; minister says force needs cultural change

Former IDF Brig. Gen. Gal Hirsch (Moshe Milner/GPO/Flash90)
Former IDF Brig. Gen. Gal Hirsch (Moshe Milner/GPO/Flash90)

More than two dozen former police chiefs and other senior security officials held an unprecedented meeting Wednesday night at which they vowed to thwart the controversial appointment of retired IDF brigadier general Gal Hirsch as the nation’s next police chief. They said they would appeal to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the state comptroller, and the Turkel Committee which must vet the appointment in their determination to prevent the move.

Former Jerusalem District police chief Aryeh Amit, who met with five former police chiefs and over two dozen other top security officials in order to discuss avenues for nixing the appointment, called the choice of Hirsch “delusional and wrong.”

“You cannot take a person who the IDF did not want and promote… and hand him such a top job,” Amit said of Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan’s decision to tap Hirsch. “I do not understand the minister. He has no clue about the police.”

On Tuesday Erdan appointed the once promising senior IDF officer, who was forced out of active duty in the wake of the 2006 war amid criticism of his management of the kidnapping of two soldiers that led to the conflict.

Minister of Public Security, Gilad Erdan, May 18, 2015 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Minister of Public Security, Gilad Erdan, May 18, 2015 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“A minister who makes this kind of appointment does not understand police work,” former police chief Yehuda Wilk told Channel 2. Another former Israel Police commissioner, Yaakov Ganot, called Erdan’s choice “a gamble that all of Israel may have to pay for.”

After the meeting, the retired officials said they would appeal the appointment directly to Netanyahu and the State Comptroller’s Office.

Former Israeli police commissioner Aryeh Amit. (Photo by Moshe Shai/FLASH90)
Former Israeli police commissioner Aryeh Amit. (Photo by Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

“We have nothing against Hirsch,” former chief Moshe Karadi told Channel 2. “But we are concerned about the manner in which the selection process was carried out.”

Karadi said that, whatever the outcome of the appeal, all of the top officers would stand by the final decision, but, he argued, “We believe there are suitable candidates within the police force.”

According to reports Wednesday evening, Southern District Police Chief Yoram Halevi was tapped to serve as deputy police commissioner with expanded authority, including reassigning the office of police investigations under his command.

In a media blitz after the announcement of Hirsch’s nomination Tuesday evening, Erdan said his decision was largely influenced by the many corruption and sexual harassment scandals that have plagued the force in the past year. Nearly half of the police’s division heads have faced sexual harassment allegations in recent years, with some resigning as evidence against them accumulated.

Erdan defended his decision in an interview with Channel 2, saying a change in the “organizational culture” of the Israel Police necessitated the outside appointment.

Furious parents of IDF soldiers who were killed during the Second Lebanon War also attacked the appointment, saying Wednesday that Hirsch’s failures during the conflict made him unsuitable for such a high-profile position.

The Israel Police has recently been hit by a series of high-profile corruption and sexual harassment scandals, and Erdan previously indicated that he might seek to appoint a figure from outside the force to succeed commissioner Yohanan Danino.

A number of senior serving IDF officers had turned down the position, Haaretz reported.

The 51-year-old Hirsch currently works as chair of the Israel Leadership Institute and CEO of Defensive Shield Holdings, a company that describes itself as “provider of strategic, operational and tactical solutions for the defense, security and homeland security sectors around the world.”

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