National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir wenr undercover at a police station in Jaffa while wearing a disguise, Channel 12 reported Saturday.
In a photograph published by the outlet, the far-right lawmaker could be seen sporting a fake beard and wig, a gray wool hat, and a zippered jacket, a far cry from his usual clean-cut look and outfit of a buttoned shirt, tie, and suit jacket.
Police officers criticized Ben Gvir, the report said, citing anonymous officers who complained he was “trying to take over the organization.”
Ben Gvir’s office confirmed the stunt, saying in a statement that the minister likes to observe from close up how police deal with the public.
According to Channel 12, Ben Gvir arrived at the police station on Thursday wearing his disguise and told the desk officer he wanted to file a complaint.
He spun a tale for 20 minutes before eventually revealing his true identity and, reportedly, complimenting the officers on their work.
Channel 12 said that as soon as the game was up, Tel Aviv District police commanders sent out warnings to each other on the WhatsApp messaging service saying that Ben Gvir was on the prowl.
— החדשות – N12 (@N12News) January 27, 2024
The ploy drew criticism from some in the police force, with one officer remaking to the network, “How much time does the minister have to spend on disguises instead of managing more pressing matters?”
Another senior unnamed officer was more direct, accusing the far-right Ben Gvir of “trying to take over the [police] organization, to be a super-elevated chief of police.”
Ben Gvir’s office said in a statement that the minister “visits police stations in order to closely observe the work of the police officers.”
It said that Ben Gvir went to the Tel Aviv district “to see the behavior and reception that citizens receive at the station from police officers.”
“Indeed, the minister was impressed that the citizen is received in a professional, kind, and pleasant manner by the desk officer and the policemen.”
The statement noted that the visit was coordinated with the police.
The network recalled that former justice minister Yossi Beilin, who held office in 1999-2000, also once turned up at a police station in disguise, causing uproar at the time.