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Gush Katif Expulsion Police Commander Accused of Molestation

Israel reeling as top police commander, proponent and central figure in executing Gush Katif expulsion, is investigated for alleged sexual crimes.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 11/23/2010, 10:46 PM / Last Update: 11/24/2010, 11:24 AM

Israel news photo montage

The police commander who oversaw the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif in 2005 has become the latest in line of expulsion leaders who have been involved since then in issues that caused their political downfall or criminal investigation.

The idea of “Divine Retribution” was raised when Ariel Sharon, who initiated the ”Disengagement” program that destroyed nearly two dozen Jewish communities, suffered a stroke shortly afterwards that has left him still in a vegetative state four years later. Subsequent investigation of the activities of his then-MK son Omri resulted in the son's receiving a prison sentence and ended his political career.

The theory has resurfaced with this week’s headlined investigation of police commander Uri Bar-Lev, suspected of sexual offenses with at least two women while he was Southern Commander, a position he held at the time of the expulsion.

Police violence against peaceful protestors of the expulsion has been well-documented, and police officers also broke international law, such as riding in ambulances to surprise protesters. Bar-Lev was a central figure whose attitude to the destruction victims was scornful and brutal.

The investigation of Bar-Lev has been an earthquake for the police department as well as for Bar Lev’s career. The selection of a new national police chief is only six weeks away and the timing of the allegations may prevent his consideration for the post.  The issue has been the main headline in the mainstream Hebrew media for the past several days.

A connection between Bar-Lev's carrying out orders and retribution also was raised two years ago, when authorities demolished his home because of safety problems.

Bar-Lev follows other public officials who found themselves beset by failures or criminal proceedings following their roles and energetic efforts to enforce the expulsion program.

Dan Halutz, who took over as IDF Chief of the Staff shortly before the expulsion, left his position after severe criticism of his management – or mismanagement – of the Second Lebanon War. Israelis were shocked at learning that the same morning of the kidnapping of soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, the incident that touched off the war, Halutz took the  time to speak to his bank about urgently selling  his stocks.

The soldiers’ bodies were returned two years later in black-draped coffins sent by Hizbullah, in exchange for the release of Lebanese terrorists.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who took over for Sharon after his stroke and has been blamed for government failures to help the expulsion victims, faces possible trial and more criminal investigations of alleged bribery and breach of public trust.

The latest case against involved the huge Holyland apartment development in Jerusalem, where Olmert was mayor when city officials changed the zoning status of the area in order to allow the project to move forward.