Controversy Over Naming Of New Police Chief

YERUSHALAYIM -

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan yesterday defended his appointment of IDF Brig. Gen. (res.) Gal Hirsch as the new police commissioner, amid resentment from senior police officers over the choice of an outsider to head the force, along with protests from those who blamed Gal for the failures of the Second Lebanon War.

“My responsibility is to look for the person who, as I see it, has the biggest chance to make changes,” Erdan told Ynet.

“I heard from objective individuals who said he [Hirsch] acted properly and professionally [during the Second Lebanon War], and the problem was higher up the ladder with policies and so on,” Erdan added. “I will surely not disqualify a commander like that. I don’t look at the rank, but at the person, his qualities and experience.”

Regarding the issue of being an outsider, Erdan argued that Hirsch was not such an outsider: “Hirsch knows the police from his previous roles. He commanded operations in which the police took part, and let us not forget that in Israel, the police operate differently than in other countries because the issues of terrorism and rioting are a prinary field of operations.”

Erdan said that since Hirsch’s release from the IDF, he has worked with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and intelligence agencies, and that “he would bring these abilities and knowledge to the Israel Police. I believe he will upgrade the police’s abilities and introduce what’s missing in it today.”

The forced resignations of a number of senior officials have led to a widely-held perception that the police needs an infusion of leadership untainted by scandal.

“I need to look at the organization as an organization and see why there is such damage to the public trust [in the police]. I eventually decided that a person coming from the IDF — with its different norms and standards — has the best chance of bringing about change,” Erdan told reporters.

The appointment was also denounced by bereaved families of soldiers killed during the Second Lebanon War, who hold Hirsch personally responsible for the death of their sons.

Tzvi Regev, whose son Eldad Regev, Hy”d, was abducted along the Israel-Lebanon border in 2006 and murdered by Hizbullah, expressed deep disappointment over Hirsch’s nomination.

“I see Gal Hirsch as the person responsible for my son’s abduction,” Regev said. “When I heard about Hirsch’s appointment, I was disappointed. I have a feeling that no one cares about the feelings of the bereaved families. That is a hard feeling.”

“I won’t argue with bereaved families and will always bow my head to them,” Erdan said. “I heard from [Justice Eliyahu] Winograd [who headed a commission of inquiry into the war], [IDF Chief of Staff Gadi] Eisenkot and [Defense Minister Moshe] Yaalon, who valued Hirsh as a division commander who, unfortunately, did not receive any backing from [then-IDF chief Dan] Chalutz at the time. I was convinced a great injustice was done to him. I shouldn’t disqualify him because of that injustice.”