There are increasing chances that Public Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir will not extend the term of Police Commissioner Rabbi Kobi Shabtai by another year, according to senior police and national security ministry officials.
Those close to Ben-Gvir accuse: "The police commissioner has failed in his job, instead of concentrating on eradicating crime in general and Arab society in particular and on other challenges, he is busy promoting his friends in the police with whom he grills to positions for which they are not suitable."
Police extras claim, "Instead of taking responsibility for the chaos that the police reached during his tenure, he blames the minister. The police are collapsing, half the extras are at odds with him, the spirit of the commander no longer exists."
Over the weekend, the Forum of Police Commissioners and Retired Extras also expressed no confidence in Saturn. In a letter they sent to the prime minister requesting a meeting with him, they claimed that they wanted to hold the meeting "without the presence of the minister of national security and without the police commissioner." The forum's chairman, former police commissioner Moshe Cardi, told Israel Hayom that "the police commissioner is not measured by managing the organization in routine, but in a crisis, and in all crises to date, he has failed."
Letter sent by the Forum of Police Commissioners and Extras to the Prime Minister, photo: None
Last Thursday, during a meeting on the appointment of officers to the senior command staff, the minister and the police commissioner were updated on the shocking murder in the village of Yafia. In a harsh conversation between the two, Ben-Gvir slammed the police commissioner, among other things: "You are not doing your job properly, the appointment of members is unacceptable to me, my condition is the appointment of first-rate professionals to positions, certainly in the situation in which the police are present."
The explosion between the two deals with the appointment of a replacement for Tel Aviv District Commander Ami Eshed. Shabtai demands the appointment of Border Police Commander Lt. Gen. Amir Cohen, Ben-Gvir clarified, who lacks command experience, to the position, and demands the appointment of Deputy Commander of the Jerusalem District, Danny Levy, who has previously held significant positions in the Tel Aviv District, including: Commander of the Lev Tel Aviv Station, Officer of the District's Operations Division, Commander of the Yiftach District and Commander of the Yarkon Region.
Shabtai denies that these were unprofessional appointments, but in recent months he and his close circle have been focused on trying to persuade the minister to extend his term by another year. To this end, the national headquarters made sure to broadcast warming relations between the two and to issue joint announcements to the media.
Shabtai is expected to end his three-year term in January 2024, but the government, on the recommendation of the Minister of National Security, can extend the term of the police commissioner by another year. Two months ago, when he asked to extend his term, Ben-Gvir replied that he would decide based on the results on the ground.
"It's no secret that we started badly," Ben-Gvir said last month when asked whether he intended to extend Shabtai's term. "Our relations, at least at the beginning, were quite a few disagreements and gave them public restraint. In the last month and a half we have changed direction, we have learned to work each other, there is appreciation, I think he is a professional, but I want to see results. If there are results, it is a very serious option. He's the police chief, he's the police chief."
But the results were slow to come. The wave of violence continues, the scourge of murders in Arab society has skyrocketed, and already more than half of the country's citizens do not feel personal security.
It was precisely against this background that Saturn and his people changed strategy. Last Thursday, after the murder in Yafia, Shabtai spoke with his officers and told them that Ben-Gvir was trying to force him to appoint non-professionals in exchange for extending his term. "I have no interest in leaving scorched earth behind. I am under pressure to make unprofessional appointments, I have no cooperation with this in exchange for a fourth year in office," he claimed, adding that Ben-Gvir did not ensure NIS 9 billion as he promised and that the salaries of police officers would not rise as promised.
"Things are serious, but they have a background," Ben-Gvir's circle responded. It should be emphasized that on February 24, those close to Shabtai claimed that "the police commissioner spoke with the minister a short time ago and thanked him for the significant achievements in the state budget for the police. The police commissioner was updated throughout the hours of the budget discussions."
As you may recall, the minister's former chief of operational staff, Lt. Gen. Eli Kazari, accused in a conversation with the police commissioner that his appointments were a friend brings a friend method. "You destroyed the police, it will take years to rehabilitate what you did," he claimed in a conversation attended by the minister.
"The police commissioner no longer runs the organization, the organization runs it," says former police commissioner Cardi, who heads the Forum of Rebbe Extras and retired extras calling for Ben-Gvir's ouster. "Those who run the police today are the commanders and the minister. The police commissioner has lost managerial control over his subordinates."
Police officials assessed over the weekend that Shabtai's attack on Ben-Gvir was well planned. "This is the behavior of a person who recognizes that he is probably not going to get the fourth year, he understands that he is going to lose respect, so he flex his muscles, where he was when the Tel Aviv district commander was ousted by the minister live," they said.
Two weeks ago, Chief of the Operations Division, Major General Sigal Bar-Zvi, in a panel on security and governance at Reichman College, described the sorry state of the police when she said, "We are no longer a strong police, we have to put this on the table, we are witnessing that one of the links in Israeli society has collapsed into itself. The Arab street is tired, broken and exhausted by the situation in which the criminal organizations are the ones in control and turn to them if something happens. It's a loss of trust in the establishment, including the police."
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