Police Chief Admits his Mistake in Ousting Tel Aviv’s Top Cop
On Thursday, it had been announced that the Tel Aviv District’s police commander would be removed from his post, as the police minister had criticized his soft policing of those protesting against the government.
Two days after this explosive announcement, Kobi Shabtai, the Israel Police Commissioner attended a press conference and admitted that he had made a mistake in giving his approval for the decision.
Shabtai admitted that in light of the uproar that had occurred after the announcement, he had considered resigning from his position. However, he stated that he had opted to not walk away from his duties.
The commissioner had been accused by former police chiefs, protestors as well as current top officers of bowing down to political pressure. They had demanded that he resign from his position.
Itamar Ben Gvir, the National Security Minister, had announced Amichai Eshed’s ouster on Thursday evening. He had said that Shabtai had recommended that Eshed be transferred to lead the Training Department.
The attorney general had immediately frozen Eshed’s removal, stating that there were concerns about it being carried out on the instigation of Ben Gvir, which would be a breach of conduct.
According to Shabtai, he had made an error in judgement and it was a mistake, considering the timing of the decision and the manner in which it had been done.
He added that he did not take his actions lightly and he respected the attorney general’s decision to freeze the move.
Both Ben Gvir and Shabtai had asserted that the decision to remove Eshed from his position had been pre-planned.
However, Ben Gvir has also admitted that he had also decided to make the move now because of how the commander had handled the anti-government protests in Tel Aviv in the last 10 weeks.
The protestors have blocked roads, along with the Ayalon Highway, and the police has mostly dealt calmly and patiently with them.
The Commissioner’s response
Shabtai said in the press conference that he would continue working with Eshed and they would behave professionally.
Reports have said that following the decision, Eshed had talked to Shabtai and labeled him ‘unfit’ to continue with his position.
The commissioner claimed that they had intended to transfer Eshed a few weeks later, after the month of Ramadan, which is a high-tension month.
He also said that the transfer was part of a wider shuffle in the police force. He did not clarify if the move was being indefinitely suspended, or until it is required by the attorney general.
The police chief also said that he had reconsidered his posting after the decision and the fracas it had created.
He said that he done some soul-searching about where he was going. He said that he had been in uniform for 37 years and had never abandoned a mission.
Therefore, he did not intend to do it now. He stressed that under his leadership, the police force would uphold the right to protest within the law.