Editorial |

Cop Who Abandoned Dying Man Isn't Worthy of His Uniform

Haaretz Editorial
Brig. Gen. Jamal Hakhrush in 2016.
Brig. Gen. Jamal Hakhrush in 2016.Credit: Moti Milrod
Haaretz Editorial

Israel Police Brig. Gen. Jamal Hakhrush, who heads the department combatting crime in the Arab community, is not worthy of being an officer. In fact, he is not worthy of a police uniform. That is the immediate conclusion from his conduct in the video and the incident reported by Josh Breiner in Monday’s Haaretz.

On Saturday September 12, 2020, Hakhrush encountered a murder scene at an iron factory in Kafr Kana in northern Israel. He was off duty at the time, but when an argument broke out that ended in murder, Hakhrush chose not to respond in any way and to leave, abandoning civilians, including the dying man.

Security cameras showed Hakhrush leaving the factory office, descending a staircase and stepping over the victim, who was lying on the steps bleeding to death, and exiting the building without offering any form of help. Hakhrush also ignored the assailant, who had barricaded himself in a nearby room. He chose to remain entirely uninvolved instead of taking command of the situation.

That is not how a police officer should behave. Even a civilian is expected to try to help someone bleeding to death, not to mention a police brigadier general. Relatives and employees at the factory tried to give first aid and called the police, who were surprised to discover an officer had been there. Hakhrush did not act like a police officer should at a murder scene, and is unworthy of his rank.

Following the report in Haaretz, Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai said Monday that the police would establish a panel to investigate the incident, headed by retired Brig. Gen. Aharon Eksol, and that the police had granted Hakhrush’s request for a leave of absence until the probe is completed. This is necessary but late, as is typical, and comes only after the case was publicized. When an entity suffers from a culture of lying, cover-ups and violence, this does even more damage to its image, which is already at a nadir.

It is not just Hakhrush’s conduct that must be investigated. On Monday it emerged that the police brass and senior officers at National Police Headquarters knew about the incident and ignored it. The acting police commissioner at the time, Brig. Gen. Motti Cohen, was told about the incident in real time, but nothing was done to address it.

It wasn’t just the police who knew and covered it up. The northern branch of the prosecutor’s office knew of Hakhrush’s involvement – they had the material necessary to file an indictment, but took no action against Hakhrush, and later opposed the publication of the material. Despite the fact that many senior officials were aware of the incident, Hakhrush was still promoted to head the department fighting crime in the Arab community. This shows the depth of the rot in these bodies. And so, in addition to dealing with Hakhrush himself, authorities must reveal who helped cover up this incident, and punish them accordingly.

The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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