Public Security Ministry D-G Quits Suddenly, Apparently Over Sex Harassment Complaint

External ministry adviser said that Peleg tried to harm her and her professional status, using verbal abuse and sexual harassment over a period of several months.

Hagai Peleg, the director general of the Ministry of Public Security, resigned on Wednesday without explanation. His departure is believed to be linked to a sexual harassment complaint that an external ministry advisor filed against him recently.

The advisor said in her complaint that Peleg tried to harm her and her professional status, using verbal abuse and sexual harassment over a period of several months.

The complaint prompted an investigation against Peleg a few weeks ago by the head of the Civil Service Commission's disciplinary department, Asaf Rosenberg. Rosenberg's people started gathering testimonies from various staff members in the Public Security Ministry.

Hagai Peleg
Motti Kimchi

Peleg spoke to a ministry worker about the complaint yesterday. But afterward he said he regretted having done so, as it may have disrupted the investigation.

A ministry spokesman said yesterday, "The director general made it clear he had no intention of obstructing the examination process or of getting that worker into trouble [by involving him] in some improper procedure. However, he sees the meeting itself and the things he said as a grave error of judgment that is not worthy of his status and position."

In a meeting with Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch yesterday, Peleg dismissed all the allegations against him and said he was ready for any probe.

The Civil Service Commission is forbidden by law to investigate a retired civil servant, so at this stage it is not clear what will become of the complaint, now that Peleg has resigned.

Peleg, born in 1964, entered his post as director general of the Public Security Ministry in May 2009 and is seen as the strong man in the ministry.

Before this appointment Peleg served as Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's right-hand man, when the latter headed the Ministry for Strategic Affairs.

Peleg was appointed head of the the Police Special Anti-Terror Unit (Yamam ) in 1999 and his term was marked with clashes with his subordinates. He dismissed a group of combatants who had destroyed Palestinian property, other combatants for for abusing animals also a highly-paid officer who was found to be working despite having no approval for his position.

Peleg's attempts to introduce organizational and structural changes in the Yamam drew fire from some of his subordinates who said he behaved like a bully and ignored the unit's conduct codes.

Finally, former Police Commissioner Yehuda Wilk was called into the unit to hear the soldiers' complaints.

"We don't trust the commander, can't rely on him and don't want to serve under him," one of the soldiers told Wilk. Wilk, however, gave Peleg his full backing.

"Several combatants had complaints and were bitter. They may resign from the unit. But on no account is there any reason to make a 'rebellion' out of internal differences of opinion," Wilk told the media at the time.

Peleg's military service is seen as successful. He served in the elite Sayeret Matkal unit, served as deputy commander of the Golani Brigade and the elite unit Sayeret Egoz.