Police Seek to Bar Union Boss From Port 90 More Days

Investigators say probe against Alon Hassan is widening.

Moti Milrod

The Israel Police seeks to keep Alon Hassan — the powerful chief of the Ashdod Port labor union, who is under investigation for offenses including extortion and conflict of interest — away from port facilities until December as they widen their probe against him.

In a petition to extend by 90 days an order banning Hassan from the port, police said they had not completed their investigation and were examining new suspicions against him. The request was submitted to Kfar Sava Magistrate’s Court Judge Michael Karsin.

The police argued that Hassan had to be kept away from the Ashdod Port to prevent disruption of the investigation and ensure that it is conducted properly. Kasrin is expected to rule on Monday.

Hassan was arrested in May, together with another dozen or so individuals who allegedly steered business to Dana Port Group, a company headed by a friend and former business partner of Hassan’s named Yaniv Balter. Hassan was released after a week and a half of house arrest but was ordered to keep away from the port for 90 days and to avoid contact with anyone involved in the probes. He was also barred from leaving Israel.

At the time, Hassan asked the judge to reject the request for the restraining order, so that he could continue as chairman of the port’s workers committee. He termed the police investigation a political witch hunt aimed at undermining his union leadership.

The police investigation comes as the government is seeking to shake up the monopoly controlled by the Ashdod and Haifa ports by developing privately operated ports. Dockworkers unions have been fighting the plan, saying it will hurt their wages and conditions, but the government is determined to move forward in the hope that competition will lower costs for business and the cost of living for consumers.

At the beginning of August, Hassan’s attorney, Benny Katz, also appealed the ban on his going abroad, saying he wanted to take a vacation with his children in Crete the last week of August “for a bit of fresh air in light of the security situation,” a reference to Operation Protective Edge.

Karsin never responded to the petition and it appears Hassan abandoned the effort.

Meanwhile, Hassan’s name has come up in another investigation into the doing to celebrity attorney Ronel Fisher, who police allege solicited money from the union chief to pay off police to stop the ports investigation. Fisher was arrested after Hassan, cooperating with the police, handed him a suitcase containing $150,000 in cash.