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Senior police officer Major General Uri Bar Lev's personal handgun and police car were stolen late Friday night after burglars broke into his home in central Israel.

The theft occurred just as Bar Lev was slated to assume his new post as the Israel Police representative to the United States in Washington D.C.

The intruders moved in on the house during the early hours of Saturday morning, while Bar Lev, his wife and their three children were still asleep. The burglars broke into a safe that held Bar Lev's personal weapon and also stole his police car, a Toyota Camry. They also stole money from one of the family members' wallets.

The Ramle police launched an investigation into the crime, and learned from the top officer that no one in the household had sensed the intruders' presence while they were in the house. Bar Lev said the burglary was discovered only after the family awoke in the morning.

Bar Lev was discharged from his post as commander of the Israel Police's southern district last August, after, according to Bar Lev, he had refused to take leave from the force for a year of academic studies in the United States, arguing that he had wished to continue in an operational capacity.

As a result of the confrontation with the police commissioner, David Cohen, Bar Lev was assigned forced leave, and then he was fired from the force. He appealed to the Supreme Court to reverse the decision.

Two months ago, however, it was decided that Bar Lev would not be discharged from the police, and that he will become the Israel Police representative in the United States.

The decision, made by incoming Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, was considered a severe blow to the police chief's authority, as he had said that he did not agree to Bar Lev's reinstatement.

A final decision on Bar Lev's reinstatement in the Supreme Court was due next week, although that hearing may yet be canceled, as the two sides seemed to be nearing an agreement on the dispute.