Analysis |

Decade-old Deadly Traffic Accident May Lose Prosecution's Public Faith

The Gal Beck case shows that going on the defensive is no way for the police and prosecution to go in face of criticism.

Gidi Weitz
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Gal Beck - boy killed in 2005 car accident. Credit: Channel 1 /YouTube
Gidi Weitz

The story deep within the affair of the traffic accident in which teenager Gal Beck was killed is the prosecution’s inability to check itself sincerely. In the face of criticism or when a possible failing is pointed out, the first instinct of the agency in charge of law enforcement and justice is to go on the defensive, self-justify and point a finger at critics, sometimes hinting that they are hiding extraneous interests. That was the case with the suicide of Brig. Gen. Ephraim Bracha and that is the case surrounding the car accident that happened in north Tel Aviv a decade ago.

“You are spilling our blood and drinking it with a spoon,” was the way attorney Dassi Forer of the Tel Aviv District Prosecution responded to criticism for closing the case against the driver who hit Beck. As if Forer herself was the victim here, as if it had been her blood on the corner of Keren Kayemeth and Haim Levanon streets.

“We will not admit to a mistake when there was none,” a senior official in the Justice Ministry department that investigates police misconduct said after Bracha’s suicide, after it was claimed that the probe against Bracha in his final days lacked real justification.

That is the almost constant pattern in the State Prosecutor’s Office in recent years: hurry to the trenches and return fire. At first glance, there is something strange about reopening an investigation of a traffic accident after 10 years; there are always procedural arguments to be made.

But at least one detail in the investigative report by Channel I’s Ayala Hasson and Yifat Glick should have caused the prosecution to take on the case again without waiting for the appeal submitted by Beck’s father, or public protest: the complete turnaround in the eye-witness testimony by the taxi driver who told the police that the driver who hit Beck had a green light and that Beck had been crossing on red, but told a completely different story to a hidden camera.

How was it that the driver who hit Beck referred the police to the taxi driver and that she had the driver’s phone number? Was the taxi driver even at the scene? Was contact made between the taxi driver and another figure in the story? The extreme change in testimony raised such a stink that it requires investigation in other fields entirely.

But instead of realizing what the investigation’s findings could mean and quickly announcing the reopening of the case, the prosecution sent Forer to a shameful radio horror show and only a few days later conveyed surrender to pressure on social media and the media, and readiness to dive deeply into the matter.

In this fossilized way it is impossible to attain the most important resource law enforcement has in a democracy: public faith. It seems that the person who has for the last 18 months headed the prosecution has not internalized this rule.

In its self-justifying, defensive and disconnected pattern of conduct, the prosecution is handing ammunition to its real rivals – powerful, well-connected white-color criminals, who want this to be a society without antibodies, without oversight and without moral boundaries.