Sexual Harassment Charges Rock Israel Police

Two senior police officers questioned; associates blame vendetta by district commander, who was himself questioned on similar charges last year.

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Israeli police vehicles at Jerusalem's Western Wall plaza.
Israeli police vehicles at Jerusalem's Western Wall plaza.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

Two senior police officers were questioned Tuesday on suspicion of sexual harassment. The questioning was conducted by the Justice Ministry department that investigates complaints against the police.

While the names and districts of the suspects were not released, it is known that but one is a deputy district commander, with the rank of brigadier general, and the other is a chief superintendent in the same district.

Friends of the two, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said the questioning was part of a “revenge campaign” by the district commander, who suspected the two subordinates of trying to undermine him. Figures close to the commander, also speaking on condition of anonymity, rejected the allegation.

The officers’ questioning was first reported by the Ynet news website.

The district commander, a major general in the Israel Police, was questioned by the same Justice Ministry department about a year ago, over allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment of a woman working in his office. The commander denied the allegations, which he said were perpetrated by a rival in his district.

That investigation was closed, but according to officers in the district the incident marked the start of the commander’s “all-out war,” in the words of one source, to discover the person behind the letter that led to his questioning. Police officers in the district concluded after an investigation that the complaint had come from the deputy district commander, in an attempt to damage the commander.

The deputy commander denied the claim.

“The officer said in the clearest way possible that he was called in for questioning because people were trying to get back at him. The police investigations department is playing with us and not telling us exactly what the suspicions are. All we know is that there was a complaint of indecent acts and sexual harassment through abuse of authority,” the deputy commander’s attorney, Ariel Atari, said.

Other police officers in the district, speaking anonymously, have said the tension and distrust between the district’s two highest-ranking officers disrupted the workplace.

In a statement yesterday the Israel Police said the issue of sexual harassment is a high priority in the force in terms of education, investigation and enforcement.

Last week Moriah District Police commander Kobi Davidian was questioned under caution on suspicion of sexual harassment after the Justice Ministry department received a complaint that Davidian had sexually harassed a female officer in 2005, when he was an intelligence officer in the Etzion District. Five years ago, Davidian was exonerated by a police disciplinary tribunal of sexual harassment and abuse of authority charges involving two women officers.

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