The Justice Ministry is currently “breaking through dams” and “cleaning stables” in the police, with every commander on notice that failure to deal with complaints of sexual harassment will end his chances of climbing the Israel Police ladder, the head of the ministry department that investigates police misconduct said yesterday.
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“It can be seen that the investigations of police major generals accused of sexual improprieties that we have conducted in recent years have broken through a dam in the police,” Uri Carmel said. Speaking at an annual event summing up his department’s activities at the State Prosecutor’s Office in Jerusalem, Carmel said, “Today every officer in the police, and every policewoman, knows that a commander who received a report of sexual harassment and did not report it will bear the full brunt of disciplinary proceeds and lose his place in the organization. Senior commanders summoned to investigations in the department that investigates the police never go back to their normal agenda. That’s a fact.”
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said at the meeting, “An authority responsible for law enforcement is tested by its ability to deal with these matters. Not to whitewash or hide them from the public.”
However, Weinstein also said that “the danger of an unbridled attack on the entire organization cannot be ignored,” and that “we must not throw out the baby with the bathwater.”
The statements came a day after Deputy Police Commissioner Nissim Mor’s name was made public as the senior officer suspected of harassing a junior policewoman who had asked for his assistance, and committing an indecent act, taking advantage of his position of authority.
Mor was questioned yesterday in Jerusalem at the office of the Justice Ministry unit that investigates the police, where the assessment was that a series of incidents was involved that “could lead to a serious indictment.”
During his questioning by the unit, Mor reportedly admitted to other instances in which he conducted correspondence of a sexual nature with policewomen. Mor reportedly told investigators: “I understand that a person who behaves this way is not worthy of holding my post. It was not ethical, I did not conduct myself properly.”
Mor is expected to leave the police, the sixth police major general to do so over the past 18 months under embarrassing circumstances, just days after it became public that the commander of the Judea and Samaria district, Maj. Gen. Kobi Cohen, is suspected of having had a sexual relationship with a policewomen under his command in exchange for giving her a promotion.
At the event, Carmel went on to say that “when the dam breaks, and it is close to breaking, the work environment in the police for young policewomen will become safe, high-quality and devoid of sexual harassment and the phenomenon of taking advantage of authority” in relationships between men and women, Carmel added. He said his department would not rest until it had reached the truth.
“The process of cleaning the stables is happening before our very eyes,” Carmel said. “It is a positive process for the organization in the long term.
After describing his department’s activities over the past year, Carmel then said that his staff “are great believers in love, ’make love, not war.’ However, to the best of our understanding, there is absolutely no connection between the stories that come to us in the department and an affair or an act of love.”
According to Carmel, his department realized following investigations in recent years that experts were needed “to give sufficient support to the victims of the offense.” Carmel said his department had worked with rape crisis centers to create a joint program “out of full commitment to men and women victims of offenses and women who were victims of harassment by senior officers, to provide psychological support that we could not always give,” Carmel said.