A senior police officer accused of sexual harassment was named on Thursday as the commander of the coastal district, Deputy Commissioner Hagai Dotan. He is the seventh top police officer to face allegations of sexual harassment in the last 18 months, in a series of scandals that have plunged Israel Police into crisis.
Dotan faced questions at the Police Investigations Department later in the day after being grilled for 12 hours the day before.
“All cases are considered verbal harassment, not sexual harassment,” Dotan said during his investigation, according to the Walla news site.
“I stated some things, but there were no sexual intentions. Maybe in retrospect I would not say the same words.”
Dotan was instructed to take two weeks leave from his job under strict conditions that he not contact any other police personnel except Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino.
According to Channel 2 news, Dotan did not answer all of the questions put to him during his interviews at the investigations unit.
The scandal is the latest in a string of sexual harassment claims lodged against top police officials in the last several months, leading to a serious crisis within the force and calls for police officials to clean house.
The allegations against Dotan came to light after several women lodged a complaint with the internal affairs unit of the police several weeks ago.
Five female police officers who complained about Dotan were also summoned for questioning on Wednesday about their claims of what was primarily verbal abuse. However, despite having given testimony, none of the women intend to press charges.
The NA’AMAT organization, which campaigns to improve the status of women in society, held demonstrations outside several police stations across the country in support for female police officers. Protesters carried banners with the slogan, “If you don’t keep the zipper closed, we’ll close you down.”
Dotan, 55, took command of the coastal district in 2011. Police sources said that, based on the testimony against him, Dotan is likely to be removed from his post.
Last week, Deputy Commissioner Nissim Mor, once a contender for Israel Police commissioner, was accused of sexually harassing and assaulting a policewoman, as well as carrying on inappropriate relationships with other female subordinates.
Earlier in January, Judea and Samaria District Commander Kobi Cohen announced his resignation after admitting to an improper relationship with a subordinate officer.
During a press conference last week, Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino said that the recent string of misconduct scandals have damaged the public’s trust and that the Israel Police needed a “root canal.”