Police to wipe clean 339,000 records in 70th Independence Day gesture

Move will apply only to cases that didn’t lead to indictments, but not those involving serious crimes

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich speaks at a press conference at the police headquarters in Jerusalem, April 17, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich speaks at a press conference at the police headquarters in Jerusalem, April 17, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Israel Police will wipe clean hundreds of thousands of police records in a goodwill gesture to mark the country’s 70th Independence Day.

Under the initiative, some 339,000 closed files relating to 300,000 Israeli citizens, regional citizens, foreigners, and tourists, will be deleted, among them cases involving 34,000 minors, police said in a statement.

“Even regular citizens commit offenses and break the law, but that doesn’t mean we should label them as criminals,” Commissioner Roni Alsheich told a press conference Tuesday at police headquarters in Jerusalem.

“It is in the interest of society to not label them as criminals as much as possible and to enable them to return to the pool of regular citizens.”

The clean sweep, titled “A New Chance,” will only be applied to closed cases involving misdemeanors committed five years previously or criminal offenses committed seven years previously, and that did not lead to an indictment. Alsheich said the plan is part of a reform aimed at building public faith in the force.

He noted that police have the authority to cancel files that were closed and have not been passed to prosecutors. Cases that are still open, those involving loss of life, serious violence, sex offenses, or security offenses will not be included in the plan, which will implemented in the coming weeks.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan speaks at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, at the Inbal Hotel in Jerusalem, February 19, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, whose purview includes the police force, said his ministry had been closely involved in the initiative.

“This is real news for citizens investigated on criminal suspicions that will remove the stain from their past,” he said. “There is no reason for a cloud of suspicions to remain for years over the heads of citizens who were never convicted of criminal offenses.”

The initiative, he said, would “give an opportunity for hundreds of thousands of citizens to get a fresh start.”

Israel’s Independence Day falls on Thursday, with celebrations beginning at an official ceremony the night before.

Last month President Reuven Rivlin and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked announced a special broader pardons initiative for prisoners to mark the 70th independence celebrations.

The pardon plan is based on the tradition in Jewish law of making things easier for offenders who mend their ways and would give consideration for prisoners who have served at least a third of their sentence, who suffer from a serious disease, who have severe disabilities, who are over the age of 70, whose children are being taken care of by someone who isn’t a parent due to the prison sentence, or who are serving out a first sentence that is less than two years.

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