Israeli Police District Commander Steps Down Over Sex Allegations

Major-General Kobi Cohen, commander of the Judea and Samaria Police District, is suspected of promising a junior police officer a promotion in exchange for sex.

Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati
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Judea and Samaria Police District Commander Kobi Cohen.
Judea and Samaria Police District Commander Kobi Cohen. Credit: Ofer Vaknin
Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

A top Israel Police official has stepped down amid allegations that he pursued an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate.

Major-General Kobi Cohen, commander of the Judea and Samaria Police District, was questioned under caution on Thursday on suspicion of promising a subordinate a promotion if she agreed to sleep with him.

On Saturday it emerged that Cohen quit over the circumstances that led to the investigation. Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino has accepted Cohen's resignation, noting that the commander's decision to "take responsibility" and step down were inevitable measures.

The allegations first reached the Justice Ministry department responsible for investigating police misconduct a few weeks ago. After checking into them, the department decided to summon Cohen for questioning.

Cohen allegedly courted the policewoman via Facebook and told her that her future advancement would be guaranteed by acceding to his wooing. The woman hasn’t filed a complaint; instead, the complaint was submitted by a third party who witnessed their Facebook correspondence.

The investigation is still at an early stage, however, and the Justice Ministry still hasn’t decided whether the case warrants a criminal indictment or only disciplinary proceedings.

Cohen, 54, a married father of three, has officially headed the Judea and Samaria District since May 2013, although he served as acting commander of the department since November 2012. Cohen's career spanned 33 years and included various senior positions.

In July senior police officials called on Cohen to resign in the aftermath of the kidnapping and murder of three teenagers by a Palestinian cell. Cohen's police district was accused of mishandling the case.

High incidence of police misconduct

There have been several other recent cases in which high-ranking police officers were suspected of abusing their position to obtain sex from female subordinates. Former Jerusalem police chief Niso Shaham, for instance, is currently standing trial on charges of having sex with several female subordinates, most of whom were very much his junior in both age and rank.

According to the indictment, he conducted liaisons with subordinates for years, while occupying several different positions in the force, and had sex with the policewomen both on and off duty – in his office, his police car and other police facilities, as well as in his own house, his mother’s house and various other locations.

This past September, Commander Kobi Davidian was questioned under caution on suspicion of sexually harassing a female subordinate. The incident allegedly took place in 2005, but a complaint was filed only last year. Davidian currently commands the Moriah sub-district of the police’s Jerusalem District. The case is still under investigation.

That same month, police Brig. Gen. Shimon Ben-Harush was questioned on suspicion of sexually harassing a young woman who was doing her compulsory military service in the police. Ben-Harush is deputy commander of the police’s Central District. The woman’s direct superior, Chief Superintendent Zvika Rosenberg, has also been questioned in this case.

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