A Few Bad Apples

We are talking about people who put themselves on the line every day in the ongoing war against the terrorists. They are a brave and courageous force, made up of paid and volunteer professionals, who have the same fears and aspirations as all Israelis. However, as we know, the old phrase "a few bad apples can spoil the bunch" can be a realized even in such a professional force.

Shelomo Alfassa,

Shelomo Alfassa
Shelomo Alfassa
Arutz 7
In the last few months, the media has carried articles mentioning corruption and other assorted negative issues regarding the Mishteret Israel (Israeli Police). Though fewer in number, there have also been positive articles, such as one that dealt with the police making an effort to improve relations with new immigrants. We are talking about people who put themselves on the line every day in the ongoing war against the terrorists. They are a brave and courageous force, made up of paid and volunteer professionals, who have the same fears and aspirations as all Israelis. However, as we know, the old phrase "a few bad apples can spoil the bunch" can be a realized even in such a professional force.

Allegations against the police are not a new phenomena. In 1977, the Israeli government-appointed Shimron Commission issued a report that cited many shortcomings in the police department, including a neglect of training, a need for improved community relations and poor supervision of officers in the various precincts. Such reports are conducted when events reach a critical point and affect internal or external operations. Just three weeks ago, the now infamous Ohr Report was released, accusing the police as having a "culture of whitewashing and lying" and a "disregard of orders." This report was a result of Israeli-Arab rioting back in 2000.

Unfortunately, I can now understand why they have come to such conclusions.

I am a staff member at a yeshiva located near the Old City of Jerusalem. In the last eight weeks, we have had three incidents in which the police have crossed the line and violated our rights, in a highly inappropriate use of police powers. We take these issues very seriously, as they are an invasion of our privacy, but it seems no matter what we do or to whom we complain, they continue.

In the first incident, nearly three months ago, police (not in uniform) came into our facility, questioned people and searched rooms. This was reported to the police by the yeshiva administration, but if the police took any action, we will never know.

The second incident was right after Tisha b'Av, when two police officers (in uniform) came banging on an office door at 2:00am demanding the workers open the door. I was one of the people in the room, as was a colleague. Because we were in a dark and somewhat secluded location, we hesitated opening the door. How were we to know they were actually the police? The men shouted very loudly, ?Police! Open the door!? Eventually, fearing they might kick the door in, we opened it. Two police officers with rifles charged into the middle of the office and then demanded our identity cards. They examined them, then us, then walked out, with no explanation.

The third and most alarming incident occurred Sunday, September 7, 2003. A pair of men (not in uniform), with guns and radios, were observed going from room to room in our private residential facility. I questioned them, and they took out their identification showing they were the police, then demanded to enter the residents? rooms. They pushed their way into one unlocked room, searching it while the man was still asleep. They harshly questioned students in a most inappropriate manner, and then they reached with their own hands into another student's pants pockets. Continuing to illegally enter private residential rooms, they searched all the while being verbally abusive, stipulating over and over - ?We are the police!? It was not until I went and got the yeshiva camera, snapped five photos of the men interrogating students in their own rooms, that the officers departed.

Many of our students are olim hadashim, new immigrants, and this is their first encounter with the Israeli police. Those who experienced these incidents of trespassing and searches say they feel violated and threatened. They have no comprehension how law enforcement officers in a modern, civilized country like Israel can operate in such a manner. The yeshiva has reported these unauthorized searches and entries to the police before, and their typical response is, "It won't happen again." But it does. The students are frustrated by these invasions of their privacy and assaults on their liberty. The administration feels as if , although they have complained, their complaints continue to fall on deaf ears.

When I came to this country I was proud to see a professional police force. Patriotic as a new immigrant should be and being too old for the army, I went down and was interviewed and accepted for the Mishmar Ezrachi (Police Civil Guard). I was just about to join, as was a friend of mine, but the few bad apples of Mishteret Israel have left a bad taste in our mouths.

Our expectation is that Police Commissioner Shlomo Aharonishky can address these flagrant violations, in the hopes of proving to our institution, staff and most importantly to new immigrants that the Mishtarah carries the banner of integrity and honor. These few rough officers should not be able to put a black eye on the reputation of an entire department, whose members risk their lives to protect us on a daily basis.


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