Passed over for top cop post, deputy agrees to help controversial successor

Passed over for top cop post, deputy agrees to help controversial successor

While opposition to Gal Hirsch appointment grows, overlooked No. 2 Benzi Sau says will help with handover

Acting police commander Benzi Sau, pictured in 2013 when he took over as Tel Aviv district chief. (Photo by Roni Schutzer/FLASH90)
Acting police commander Benzi Sau, pictured in 2013 when he took over as Tel Aviv district chief. (Photo by Roni Schutzer/FLASH90)

The deputy commander of the Israel Police, who was passed over in the race for the top job this week in favor of a controversial ex-army officer, agreed Thursday to remain in the force until the end of the year and help the new chief learn the post. But Benzi Sau’s act of loyalty to the force may not be necessary, since opposition to the appointment of retired IDF brigadier general Gal Hirsch as the nation’s next police chief is growing, Israel’s Channel 2 reported Thursday night.

Sau, who has been serving as acting police commander in recent months, tendered his resignation when Hirsch was tapped for the post on Tuesday, but has now agreed to stay on to the end of the year, the TV report said.

It added, however, that Hirsch’s path to the post is anything but guaranteed, with a vetting panel set to judge next Tuesday whether he has the necessary experience to run the force, and whether his post-army business dealings in any way compromise his integrity.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who named Hirsch to the job, is to meet Friday with bereaved parents who oppose Hirsch’s appointment. A once promising senior IDF officer, Hirsch was forced out of active duty in the wake of the 2006 Second Lebanon War, amid criticism over his failure to prevent the kidnapping and killing of two soldiers that led to the conflict.

Gal Hirsch (screen capture: Channel 2)
Gal Hirsch (screen capture: Channel 2)

More than two dozen ex-police chiefs and other senior security officials held an unprecedented meeting Wednesday night at which they vowed to thwart the controversial appointment of Hirsch. They said they would appeal to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the state comptroller, and the Turkel Committee, which vets such appointments, in their determination to prevent the move.

Vigorously defending the appointment, Erdan said Thursday that it was telling that there had been no such emergency meeting of ex-police chiefs when seven senior members have been forced to quit the force lately amid a welter of corruption and sexual assault allegations. “I don’t remember any such meetings” over those incidents, Erdan said dryly, reiterating his conviction that the police needs an overhaul that only an outsider can institute.

Gilad Erdan of the Likud party, Tel Aviv, February 16, 2015 (Gili Yaari/Flash90)
Gilad Erdan (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

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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