AG Freezes Ouster of Tel Aviv Police Chief

On Friday morning, Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara instructed that the removal of Amichai Eshed, the Tel Aviv District Commander, be frozen immediately.

The legality of the decision was questioned, given that it was widely considered to be politically motivated.

The removal

On Thursday, Itamar Ben Gvir, the National Security Minister, announced that Kobi Shabtai, the Israeli Police Commissioner, had recommended the transfer of Eshed to the Training Department of the police.

The decision was regarded as a dismissal of Eshed, as it is believed that he wants to head the police force.

Media also indicated that Ben Gvir has been unhappy with Eshed because he thinks that the latter has taken a soft hand when it comes to dealing with anti-government protestors.

Baharav-Miara’s office responded to the announcement from Ben Gvir and said that initial examination of the dismissal raises concerns regarding the soundness and legality of the process.

These include the timing, the motives and the background of the decision. Therefore, the statement said that the attorney general had ordered that the decision be frozen, until a legal review can be completed.

The statement clarified that until they complete the legal review, Eshed will continue to maintain his current position.

The Police commissioner

Responding to the instructions of the attorney general, Shabtai said that they would comply with the orders.

But, he also insisted that the Israeli Police had been preparing for a round of appointments and this included Eshed’s transfer. As far as the timing is concerned, it had been at the discretion of Ben Gvir.

Hours before the statement of Baharav-Miara, a group of former police commissioners of Israel had called on Shabtai to resign because of the role he had played in Eshed’s dismissal.

The former top cops said in a letter that Shabtai’s actions had been shocking and declared them a low point in the Israel Police’s history.

They claimed that he had lost his ethical and moral right to continue serving in his position. Former commissioners were included in the signatories, such as Rafi Peled, Assaf Hefetz, Shlomo Aharonishki, Moshe Karadi and Roni Alsheich.

The response

The former commissioners accused Shabtai of cooperating with a convicted criminal and transforming the police into a private militia for satisfying the political ambitions of a minister.

Before Ben Gvir entered office, he had been arrested numerous times. He had been convicted of support of a Jewish terrorist group and incitement.

Responding to the letter of the former commissioner, Ben Gvir said that those who had penned the letter were failed officers who had destroyed the police and national security and had also been involved in corruption.

He said that they should not interfere with the work of the police and sit quietly. On Thursday, Ben Gvir had claimed that Eshed’s transfer was not a dismissal and had been pre-planned.

Nonetheless, opposition heads criticized the move and said that it had been politically motivated. The Yesh Atid party accused Ben Gvir of politicizing the police force and Benny Gantz also reiterated the same.

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