Israel's Next Police Chief Has Checkered Background

As Jerusalem's police chief, Moshe Edri was blamed for the Shira Banki murder at the gay pride parade ■ Edri is also 'one of ours,' according to an adviser to Yisrael Beitenu, Lieberman's party

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Edri as commander of the Tel Aviv police force at a ceremony, last year.
Edri as commander of the Tel Aviv police force at a ceremony, last year.Credit: Moti Milrod

Retired police Maj. Gen. Moshe (Chico) Edri, nominated to become the country’s 19th police chief, had been a popular officer for many years.

Recently he won the praises of outgoing police chief Roni Alsheikh. But for years Edri also stood out in less positive contexts: a disciplinary stain on his past over the murder of Shira Banki at a gay pride parade in Jerusalem in 2015, when he was commander of the Jerusalem district, and his links with the Yisrael Beitenu party.

Edri, 51, is a graduate of the Pirhei Aharon yeshiva high school in Haifa and lives with his family in the Kfar Oranim settlement. He’s a fitness, cooking and extreme sports enthusiast. His last police post was as commander of Tel Aviv District, which he held until he left the force in February.

Beforehand he held the key roles of commander of the Yiftah and Yarkon regions. He headed the traffic police and the Jerusalem District police at the start of a wave of terrorism several years ago. After his retirement he intended to work in the security-business sector, but following a request from Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan he competed for the job of director general of the ministry and won the job.

Erdan at a press conference about the next police chief, in September. Credit: Moti Milrod

Edri got a letter in his file after the Banki murder from the acting police chief at the time, Benzi Sao, when he, having responsibility over security at the event, was held responsible for the breach. Youths who were wounded in the stabbings at the same march sent a letter to the appointments committee, arguing against accepting Edri as police chief.

“Edri is personally responsible for the needless murder of the young girl,” they wrote. “Despite the warning signs, intelligence and early warnings, Jerusalem police headed by Edri enabled that murder to happen” by not taking steps to keep the perpetrator away from the scene, they wrote.

Edri has connections with members of the Yisrael Beitenu party, including senior figures convicted of blackmail. Last year Haaretz published transcripts of wiretaps done in connection with the Yisrael Beitenu affair in which a political adviser was heard saying: “That’s Chico, he meets with Faina (Kirschenbaum) every Friday. They hug, talk and laugh. … He’s one of ours, he knows us all, and he knows exactly what the party is.”

Amos Dahari, who is close to the party’s chairman, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, said in a separate wiretapped conversation: ‘You don’t know the importance of (Edri) being one of our people and knowing us all, he knows exactly what the party is.” The police then said in response: “Inspector Edri is a valued and esteemed officer and there’s no truth to the insults by people seeking to dirty his name for no reason.”

In 2015 Haaretz wrote that one of the central suspects in the party scandal and a confidant of Lieberman’s, Alex Wizencher, was in touch with several top police officers. One of them was Edri, who in one instance had telephoned Wizencher shortly after midnight and in another instance spoke to him for 28 minutes.