Feud Between Danino, Aharonovich Frustrates Police

Senior officer says spat over succession is 'unnecessary,' exacerbates media rumormongering.

Tova Dvorin ,

'Frenemies'? Danino and Aharonovich (file)
'Frenemies'? Danino and Aharonovich (file)

A semi-public spat between Interior Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich (Yisrael Beytenu) and Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino has sparked yet another scandal within the police, an anonymous officer related Monday - and provoked disgust for the system itself among its ranks. 

Danino and Aharonovich traded barbs Sunday, after Danino stated in a Yediot Aharonot interview over the weekend that he was opposed to the appointment of an external expert to take over his position after his expected retirement this year. 

Aharonovich, in response, publicly stated to the media that Danino "shouldn't give me [him] advice," making a private spat public - and further encouraging the Israeli's media's rampant coverage of a series of scandals in the force. 

"A good chief of police will involve himself in his own affairs and the affairs of the next commissioner," Aharonovich fired, in a comment Sunday to the press during a visit to the Temple Mount. 

Israeli media pounced on the story, which has exploded amid coverage of multiple scandals in the police over the past year and several last-minute attempts to inject a "new spirit" in the force. 

But the police officers themselves have become disgusted by the feud, a source told Walla! News Monday - and have stoked concerns of an organizational disaster if the two offices cease to work together. 

"This is an unnecessary war," a senior police officer stated, on condition of anonymity. "The fact that these statements have been leaked to major media is not good, especially now, when the state of the police is so fragile." 

"Both of them know this," he continued. "The best thing that can happen is that the two [reconcile and] talk to each other."

Tensions between Danino and Aharonovich are not new, the source added.

"It's no secret that last year there was tension between the two," he said. "Aharonvich extended Danino's tenure - despite being reluctant to do so at first." 

Scandals snowballing?

The Israel police has been rife with scandal over the last year.

They include, among others, the case opened against Lahav 433 Commander Menashe Arbiv, who is involved in the Rabbi Yoshayahu Pinto affair; the resignation of Jerusalem District Police Commander Major Gen. Niso Shahar on charges of attempted sexual assault; several other sexual harassment accusations regarding senior officers; and the poor handling of the police call made by Israeli teenagers Naftali Frenkel (16), Gilad Sha'ar (16), and Eyal Yifrah (19), hy"d, who called the 100 hotline soon after being abducted and were not taken seriously by hotline operators. 

Both Danino and Aharonovich have also faced criticism for Jerusalem's "silent intifada," with many claiming both are not doing enough to quell the rioting and unrest seeping from the capital's Arab neighborhoods outward. 

Likewise, both have pledged to "clean up the force" following the sudden resignation of Jerusalem District Commander Yossi Pariente earlier this month. After the resignation, Danino announced that he would initiate a polygraph test policy for future police candidates and Aharonovich vowed to bring a "new spirit" to the police force.

Instead of quieting speculation, however, the statements set off yet another round of rumormongering in Israeli media, causing an exasperated Danino to lash out at senior commanders over the brouhaha last week. 

"We are all public servants, who faithfully took that duty upon our shoulders the moment we decided to serve Israeli police in general, and as senior commanders in particular," Danino said. "The rigorous criteria and expectations for conduct are legitimate."

"Every one of the people sitting here today will return to his unit today and will convey this message to his people," he thundered. "We have a strong police force, we have an excellent police force, we should be proud of the police, and we should stand behind the Commissioner's speech."