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Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen on Sunday ordered the commander of the police's Southern District, Major General Uri Bar-Lev, to take a paid leave for 30 days. During that period, Bar-Lev will be subject to a hearing, after which his future with the police will be decided.

Earlier in the day, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter met with Bar-Lev, after Cohen announced last week that he had decided to remove him from his post.

Dichter initially said he had not given his consent to Bar-Lev's dismissal, which emerged after he refused to go on a study leave, but told Bar-Lev during their meeting on Sunday that he mulls approving Cohen's decision.

News of Bar-Lev's imminent retirement caused uproar among police officials. Some high-ranking officers said Cohen's decision was motivated by unprofessional considerations.

"This is a miserable decision and terribly timed," a senior police officer told Haaretz last week. "The commissioner was not behaving professionally, and his motives were personal and improper."

Cohen's critics within the police force claim he decided not to retire several older officers because of their personal relations. Instead, they say he chose to retire the younger and allegedly more distinguished Bar-Lev.

"Throughout the years police have emphasized Bar-Lev's contribution to reducing crime rates, carrying out the pullout from Gaza and improving the sense of security in the south," a senior police officer said. "Suddenly the commissioner decides to treat him as though he were a failed officer and cannot find him a position among the senior command."

Cohen's associates, however, rejected claims that he acted out of personal considerations, and said several serious failures had been discovered in the southern district in recent months. Also, they denied Bar-Lev's claims that he learned of the commissioner's decision effectively ending his career through the press. They said Cohen met with Bar-Lev Tuesday afternoon, and told him that that his decision not to go on a study leave in 2009 left him no other option but to end his service.

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