Human Rights Group: Israel Police Top Cop Quits After Commission's Verdict

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Committee For The Defense of Human Rights: Israel's police commander resigned after a government commission said he ignored ties between senior officers and underworld figures.

Israel Police Inspector General Moshe Karadi resigned even before the public in his nation had an opportunity to absorb the sweeping criticism lodged against top leaders of the police by an independent commission, according to the Committee For The Defense of Human Rights. Israel Judge Vardi Zeiler's committee was created in February 2006 by Israel's Internal Security (Police) Minister Gideon Ezra to investigate the alarming reports of deep corruption permeating the upper echelon of Israel's police.

Despite the reticence of several witnesses to give testimony, the Commission agreed in certain circumstances to hear some key individuals behind closed doors. Now, a year later, the Commission has issued a detailed 250-page report, which startlingly recommends sweeping dismissals in the top command of the Israel national police.

"The misdeeds uncovered in the officials' actions," the report says, "suggest either gross abuses of standards on the part of the police, or the total absence of standards at all."

The Committee For The Defense of Human Rights notes that Zeiler said all commission members deemed it necessary to remove current Israel police Inspector General Moshe Karadi who allegedly covered up the corruption-ridden relations between his subordinates and well-known crime figures such as the notorious Perignan brothers and other homegrown Israeli organized crime groups. Crime groups controlled casinos and restaurants in the south of Israel and widely used informers inside the police force. One gang also committed murders-for-hire; an Israeli policeman carried out at least one execution, cited in Zeiler's report.

The commission also recommended immediate dismissal, following demotion, of Colonel Yoram Levi, head of the Central section of the Israel Police Southern Command, for alleged contacts with criminal clans. The committee also advised against promoting General Ilan Franco to the position of Inspector General of Jerusalem Police Department.

According to Zeiler, "Israel's mafia plants their people inside the police department. If such suspicions are proven true, we are talking about an extraordinary degree of corruption in the Israeli police force." On the day Zeiler's report was made public, Inspector General Karadi voluntarily resigned, without waiting for dismissal.

According to public opinion polls, 70% of Israelis mistrust the police. According to the Committee For The Defense of Human Rights, tens of thousands of Israelis went to police with complaints of robberies and break-ins, stolen cars and Palestinian attacks -- never even to receive a response.

According to Haaretz Newspaper, a recent example of this is seen following one week after an 11-year-old boy was brutally raped in Ra'anana, Israel journalists learned that police did not act on information about two similar rape attempts that took place in the same neighborhood over the past month.

At the same time, Israel human rights organizations note the police often violate Israelis' civil rights and freedoms: Suspects are interrogated without attorneys. Apartments are broken into without warrants. People are fined for violations that never took place without being afforded an opportunity to set the record right.

Prominent Israel politicians and businessmen have repeatedly charged Israeli police in recent years with alleged unlawful harassment and character assassination carried out at the request of competitors of these victims. Widespread corruption at the top echelon of Israeli police has long been a subject of warnings from Israeli politicians -- in particular, former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Minister for Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman, both of whose telephones were allegedly illicitly bugged. In Lieberman's case, even his juvenile daughter's conversations were subjected to police eavesdropping.

Two prominent and respected Russia-Israel businessmen and philanthropists, Arkady Gaydamak and Michael Cherney (Mikhail Chernoy), have also repeatedly warned the public that corrupt Israel police investigators were tar-brushing them as part of a campaign commissioned against these industrialists by their rivals.

In both cases Israel police obtained wire-tapping warrants by providing the court with false evidence, fabricated cases that fell apart or were closed by Attorney-General's office and sent letters with false, disparaging information on businessmen to Interpol and other international law enforcement bodies, said Michael Cherney (Mikhail Chernoy).

Israel General Moshe Mizrahi -- former head of the police unit that investigated and, according to the Jerusalem Post, eavesdropped on Gaydamak, Cherney, Netanyahu, Lieberman and other Israeli politicians and businessmen -- retired from the force after Minister Ezra accused him of following politicians' orders and being an "agent of the Left implanted in police ranks."

Zeiler's report caused an instant social storm in Israel. Israel Knesset Member (Likud) Yuval Steinitz stated: "This is the right moment to disassemble the police force, to fix it, and re-assemble." Another member, Zahava Gal-On (Meretz), called on the Israel police to clean their ranks in order to prevent it from turning into a "rotten corrupt outfit."


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Mark Collins
Committee For The Defense of Human Rights
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