Hirsch appointment subject to harsh criticism
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Hebrew media review

Hirsch appointment subject to harsh criticism

Israeli media points to a series of uphill battles the ex-IDF general will face before he can become the country’s top cop

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

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

The uproar and surprise at the appointment of former IDF brigadier general Gal Hirsch as Israel’s next chief of police refuses to die down on Friday, as Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan’s nomination continues to dominate the agenda of the Hebrew press for the third consecutive day.

Israel Hayom blandly reports that Deputy Attorney General Dina Zilber has begun to examine whether there are any possible legal obstacles that might stand in the way of Hirsch’s appointment. The daily noticeably does not mention what such legal obstacles may include, but the leading article in Haaretz paints a more comprehensive picture, according to which the Attorney General’s Office is looking into two “security transactions” in which Hirsch was said to have played a key role.

According to Haaretz, the 51-year-old Hirsch was involved in arms deals during his time 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.”

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein received information regarding possible misconduct during the transactions even before Hirsch was tapped to head the police, Haaretz reports, and an initial investigation into the matters had already been launched by the police’s Lahav 433 serious crimes unit. Weinstein will have to decide in the coming days whether the allegations are sufficient to shoot down Hirsch’s nomination.

Yedioth Ahronoth presents a further challenge to Hirsch’s appointment, this time from the direction of a former prominent army commander who investigated the 2006 abduction of Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev on the northern border while Hirsch was commander of the Galilee Division. “[Gal] Hirsch does not have sufficient knowledge of what happens on the lower levels [of the army],” Doron Almog says. “Not enough self-monitoring and sensitivity to the field.”

In other news, Haaretz reports that only days after hundreds of migrants held for more than a year at the Holot detention center in southern Israel were freed, the Administration of Border Crossings, Population and Immigration announced that they will begin to incarcerate migrants at the facility regardless of the length of time they had spent in Israel. A court ruling two weeks ago capped temporary detention terms for migrants at 12 months, down from 20, but the new directive would technically allow the administration to arrest and hold all migrants who had not been detained at Holot for a year or more.

Israel Hayom presents a report on the current status of beard permits in the IDF, following a High Court decision to delay a directive which would force soldiers to shave their facial hair unless they receive an exemption from doing so on religious grounds. The court ruling stated that the directive discriminates against soldiers who do not practice religion, and that the “right to grow a beard is a basic right for every human.” The IDF’s Spokesman Unit said the army would study the court’s decision, and would accept the ruling for now.

In another army related report, Israel Hayom records the concerns recently raised by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon regarding violent acts committed against ultra-Orthodox soldiers by members of their communities.

“We must not accept such incidents, and we must stop and arrest the perpetrators of such actions as well as those who send them,” Ya’alon is quoted as saying. The defense minister stressed, however, that attacks against soldiers were only carried out by a small amount of extremists who do not reflect the ultra-Orthodox community at large.

Yedioth reports that the Waze navigation system effectively split the city of Jerusalem into two parts, as the successful application has begun to direct drivers to roads that bypass Palestinian neighborhoods in the eastern part of the capital, despite the fact that some such routes are lengthier. In light of the revelation, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat accused Waze of “turning its application into a political tool.” Company representatives, however, insisted that the directions were given in accordance with police safety recommendations and do not reflect any political agenda.

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