Israel's Police Chief Apologizes to Bedouin Elders for Mishandling of Children's Murder Case

Danino's meeting with Bedouin elders follows dismissal of top Arad police officers who ignored mother's complaints prior to the murder of her two children.

Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino apologized on Wednesday to Bedouin elders in the Negev for the police’s mishandling of the case of two Bedouin girls who were murdered last week, according to people present at the meeting.

The Arad station commander, deputy commander and chief of investigations were dismissed after it turned out they had ignored the mother’s complaint that they were being abused by their father and were at risk. The girls, aged 2 and 3, were found dead in the Bedouin village of Al-Fura just one day later.

“The team that examined the conduct at the station found multiple systemic failures from the [station] commander down to the [ordinary] policemen,” Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said on Friday. “Whoever failed has no place in the police and cannot command a station.”

Danino, who addressed dozens of Bedouin elders at a meeting at the police’s Southern District headquarters on Wednesday, said “the Bedouin problem in the Negev” was not the Bedouins’ problem but the state’s.

“We’ve built our policy around the principle of providing equal service,” he said. “I have no intention of changing this policy. At times like these, leadership is needed both from the people and on our part.”

Noting that “a series of recent events in the region have been interpreted by some people as a change” in the equal service policy, he assured his audience that “there’s no change in policy, on the contrary: There are more officers in the Negev, we’ve beefed up the [existing] stations and opened new police stations in the region, including in Bedouin areas, to strengthen ties with the community.”

After Danino’s opening statement, journalists were told to leave the room while the commissioner and the Bedouins held a discussion.

The Bedouin elders said afterward that they asked Danino why a Bedouin customer was bound and beaten after a shooting spree at a Be’er Sheva bank branch earlier this month, while other victims were not, and why police initially announced − incorrectly − that the killer was a Bedouin.

“We didn’t cuff him because he was a Bedouin, we also cuffed a Jew who was there,” Danino was quoted as answering.

Eliyahu Hershkovitz