Israel Police / Suddenly Standing Tall

Who did not want to be a policeman this weekend?

Friday night was doubly wonderful: There was the wonderful escape, without which there would never have been the wonderful capture. It was all worth it, if only for that rare moment of tremendous relief.

This was undoubtedly a large and complex operation, one of the largest and most complex in the history of policing worldwide. Ostensibly a simple operation, but only ostensibly. In practice, it is no small matter to catch an escaped prisoner, and it is truly unbelievable that they caught him after only two weeks - a mere blink of an eye.

Moreover, in their great wisdom and cunning, the police set up roadblocks at intersections in time, and this is also not an everyday occurrence. And still, the escaped prisoner thought he would once again escape at the last minute, but two policemen did not lose their cool: They ran after him and caught him in a pincer movement.

Furthermore, the cunning criminal grew a beard and pretended to be an Arab. But he did not fool Israel's police: With praiseworthy professional decisiveness, they identified him, despite his violent opposition to being fingerprinted.

One must never forget for a moment that this is one of our cleverest criminals: He slips out of handcuffs and leaps over high walls. He deliberately disguised himself for two weeks so no one would recognize him. But once again, the police proved their abilities: Through his deceptive facade, they identified the frightening man who cast a giant shadow over the land.

With his capture, and the removal of the gag order, the police are suddenly standing tall. Now, everything is clear: The manhunts through the Tel Aviv woods were only meant to push Sela northward, where the trap was laid; they were only meant to instill fear and weakness in him, as these depress sexual urges. All those who castigated the police should now beg pardon.

Friday morning, there were already glimmers of light. Anyone who saw the picture on the cover of Yedioth Ahronoth's magazine rested easier: It showed the public security minister standing among the trees, and it was clear that he was not to be messed with.

And that evening, everyone who was anyone was summoned to the Nahariya police station, because there is no limit to the glory that a high-level criminal can bestow on the entire leadership. Never before have so many owed so much to such a miserable rapist. Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi announced yesterday that he would look into the aberrant behavior of the policemen who were proudly photographed with the captured rapist. And he is right: Not every lowly beat cop is entitled to steal his superiors' photo op.

All's well that ends well. And after the fact, it is also permissible to judge the judges who sit on the inquiry committees that sprout like mushrooms here after every seeming failure: We have seen you in all your shortsightedness.

We did not close an eye until midnight, and we looked closely at the policemen's faces: They were furrowed with the exhaustion of the chase. Masada will not fall again, and Benny Sela will not escape again.