Israel’s New Police Chief Rapped for Handling of Tel Aviv Shooting

Senior officers say former deputy Shin Bet head Roni Alsheich has brought the security service’s culture of secrecy into the force.

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Mourners comfort one another at the scene of a shooting attack in downtown Tel Aviv on January 1, 2016.
Mourners comfort one another at the scene of a shooting attack in downtown Tel Aviv on January 1, 2016.Credit: Ofer Vaknin
Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

Senior figures in the Israel Police are critical of Commissioner Roni Alsheich’s handling of last Friday's shooting in Tel Aviv that killed two people and wounded another seven. The search for the presumed gunman, Nashat Melhem, 29, continued on Monday.

Sources in the police, who spoke on condition of anonymity, claimed that at no time since the shooting has Alsheich consulted with senior officers or held a meaningful discussion about the needs of the police teams on the ground and the best way to keep the public informed about developments in the investigation.

Senior police officers said that in contrast to previous incidents, there has been no dialogue between the police and the Shin Bet security service, a body given to secrecy. They assert that Alsheich, who was the deputy head of the Shin Bet until shortly before being sworn in as national police commissioner, on December 3, 2015, has not changed the working relationship between the two agencies. This failure, they claim, is preventing discussion of crucial issues for the police.

The sources cited what they called examples of successful cooperation between the police and the Shin Bet in the aftermath of the murder by a Palestinian terrorist of five members of a family in the West Bank settlement of Itamar in 2011 and the investigation of the kidnapping and murder of three teenagers in the West Bank in 2014. The sources said the agencies worked well together, each according to its own style. But with Alsheich, they complain, he simply accepts the Shin Bet’s assessments without holding any discussion.

As an example, they pointed to the release of images of the shooter in the Dizengoff Street attack, saying that the police listened to the Shin Bet and made them public only on Saturday night, instead of releasing them immediately.

Moreover, the sources said, Tel Aviv District police commander Bentzi Sau had wanted to hold a media conference after the attack, to brief the public on the manhunt, but Alsheich went with the Shin Bet, which had no interest in keeping the public informed.

“The need to give information to the public is not public relations,” said a police officer. “The need to give information to the public in such times is critical, operational and necessary to the day-to-day life of residents.”

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott