Gal Hirsch’s appointment as head of the Israel Police hit a snag Thursday when the head of the committee in charge of approving major public appointments said he’d refrain from weighing in until he gets the green light from Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.
In a letter to Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, committee head Jacob Turkel, a retired judge, wrote that “I can’t give you my opinion on the matter of Gal Hirsch’s appointment until I receive the findings and the opinion and position of the attorney general.”
The Turkel Commission must approve Hirsch’s appointment as police chief before he can enter office, after he was nominated last month by Erdan to replace Yohanan Danino.
The appointment of Hirsch, a retired IDF general, while lauded by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, has been fraught with controversy following reports of impropriety and corruption involving his company, Defensive Shield Holdings.
Weinstein’s office told Turkel that the attorney general could provide Turkel with a time frame for the investigation of Hirsch only after next week’s Jewish New Year.
On Wednesday, a Channel 2 report said that Hirsch’s company, Defensive Shield, was awarded a multi-million-shekel deal to clear mines and unexploded ordnance from a beach in the central Israel town of Rishon Lezion in 2012. Despite the fact that Defensive Shield had no prior experience with such operations, and that its main competitor for the projects had vast experience in mine-clearing operations and submitted a price quote of half the size, Rishon Lezion’s city hall gave Hirsch’s company the contract.
It was the latest in a string of reports on alleged corruption involving Defensive Shield. Hebrew media reported that Defensive Shield may have been involved in deals with the Georgian government, signed by a defense minister who has by now fled Georgia and who stands accused of fraud and misappropriation of state money, including through deals with Hirsch’s company.
Separately, it was reported that the FBI is conducting a fraud investigation into companies that had dealings with Defensive Shield.
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