Editorial

Israel's Police Chief, Public Security Minister Must Resign

In view of the incitement and lies these two spread immediately after the events in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran, whose houses were all destroyed, they can no longer remain in office.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich, 2016. Olivier Fitoussi

When the Justice Ministry’s police internal investigations department issues its report on the Umm al-Hiran events in about two weeks, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich must resign.

In view of the incitement and lies these two spread immediately after the events in the Bedouin village, whose houses were all destroyed, they can no longer remain in office. Erdan and Alsheich are the chiefs of Israel’s law enforcement authorities. It is intolerable that two men who incite and tell untruths like them should continue to head these important authorities.

As reported yesterday, the police internal investigations department concluded that no terror attack had taken place at Umm al-Hiran and that the civilian Yakub Abu al-Kiyan had no intention of running over a policeman. Al-Kiyan and Sgt. Maj. Erez (Amedi) Levi, who were killed during the January 18 event at Umm al-Hiran, had therefore fallen victim to trigger-happy policemen.

The teacher from Umm al-Hiran – who was driving his car slowly with no malicious intent, lost control of the car after being shot by the police and rammed into the policeman, causing his death. The policemen who shot him also prevented him from receiving medical treatment, leaving him to bleed to death in his car. The blood of both men, who were killed in vain, cries out. The police investigations department will be required to bring to trial those responsible for this police failure.

But first, we must bring to account those who instigated against the Bedouins, and especially against the innocent victim. The public security minister said immediately after the event: “A terrorist who belongs to the Islamic movement barreled toward our forces with the intent of killing as many policemen as possible.”

The police commissioner followed suit, saying: “A villainous terrorist, who took advantage of the opportunity, accelerated, ignoring the policemen…Everybody knows the assailant was a teacher in a school where six teachers who chose to teach ISIS’ ideology have been arrested.” Erdan, in his nastiness, also ranted and raved against the Arab MKs and incited against them. “This blood is also on your hands,” the minister wrote.

On Tuesday Minister Erdan’s tone was the complete opposite. Suddenly he spoke about “a regrettable, painful event,” during which “a civilian and a policeman” were killed. But no apology will turn the wheel back and restore the blood spilled in vain or revoke the ensuing incitement and lies.

Men who serve in such sensitive posts are expected to act differently. There are two possibilities – either they lied and incited knowingly and maliciously, to score political points with the already inflamed public, or they were misled. In any case, they should have checked the facts before rushing to launch a rabble-rousing campaign. Since they did otherwise, they will have to resign when the police internal investigations department report is published.

The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel