Media-Lynched 'Oz' Chief Leaves

Col. (res.) Tziki Sela resigns command of Oz immigration control unit after media frenzy over remarks about anarchists.

Gil Ronen, | updated: 15:00

Oz unit in action
Oz unit in action
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Col. (res.) Tziki Sela, who headed the Interior Ministry's “Oz” unit which arrests and deports illegal immigrants, announced Tuesday that he was resigning from the position.

Sela, who was appointed to found and head the new unit six months ago, stated: “At this point I think I have given the unit what I could, and I would like to turn to other professional channels in the private sector.”   

Sela's decision is a victory for Israeli media, anarchists and other left-wing groups, which have been fighting the unit since it stated its intention to crack down on illegal immigration to Israel and to begin deporting more illegal workers than it did before. In a seemingly coordinated PR blitz, the media has been featuring large-scale photos and prominent interviews of cute immigrant children who are due to be deported with their parents, and have extensively covered the demonstrations by leftist social groups calling for allowing the illegal immigrants to stay in Israel.

Fighting deportation with PR: Knesset demonstration this week / Israel news photo: Flash 90

Bad interview
In August, Sela gave an interview to Ma’ariv daily newspaper in which he slammed the organizations that were protesting in favor of the illegal foreign laborers. This interview proved to be his undoing.

“These organizations... those who protest against us, the ones that call me ‘Goebbels’ and a Nazi, are anarchists who want the destruction of the State of Israel, with three exclamation marks,” Sela said. “They should be condemned. This is criminal behavior, pure and simple.”

“We mean business,” he stated. “I am telling the illegal migrants, take yourselves from here and go away willingly. We will give you the plane tickets. Get out of here.”

The media responded with wall-to-wall condemnations of Sela from anchors, commentators and guests, who found his criticism of the “social” protesters and his tough talk on immigration unacceptable. They demanded his resignation and in the end, they received it.