(JNi.media) On Tuesday, Police Commissioner designate Gal Hirsch appears before the Turkel Commission which approves senior appointments in the civil service. Besides Hirsch, the committee, convening in the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, will also hear from Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) and from outgoing Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino.
When Minister Erdan introduced Brig. Gen. (Res.) Gal Hirsch as his pick for the next Israeli police commissioner, his decision provoked angry reactions from several segments of the Israeli public. Police brass were disappointed to discover that the minister opted to go above their heads and not promote a new chief from within; parents of fallen soldiers who served under Hirsch in Lebanon who blamed Hirsch for their tragedies; and the left-wing opposition parties who view Hirsch as a privileged child of the military industrial complex.
The adage regarding showing who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are works just as well here with Hirsch’s (and Erdan’s) enemies. Save for the bereaved parents, who are critical about a specific month, July 12 through August 14, 2006, known as the Second Lebanon War, aka the Israel–Hezbollah War, the other two groups can be seen as the old guard watching helplessly while the country’s emerging, right-wing consensus is winning the day.
Hirsch’s 25-year military career has been forever marred by his performance during the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Shortly after the war, IDF Chief of Staff General Dan Halutz, who resigned from his post over his own performance in the same war, was going to appoint Hirsch head of IDF Strategic Planning Division, but Hirsch decided to resign in December 2006, ahead of the publication of a report by a committee headed by Major General Doron Almog, that recommended removing Hirsch from the Army. Hirsch was eventually cleared of the report’s charges against him, but Halutz decided to let him stay resigned nevertheless.
A later report, issued by an Israeli government-appointed commission of inquiry, chaired by retired judge Eliyahu Winograd, blamed Hirsch for a share in the responsibility for the disorganized campaign waged by the IDF, which resulted in Hezbollah being able to kill 121 IDF soldiers, and to wage a rocket attack that killed 46 Israeli civilians (among them 19 Arabs).
The committee went out of its way to criticize Hirsch’s orders, saying “the division commander’s language was creative—some depicted it as poetic,” but stressing that his artistic originality made it difficult for subordinates to translate his words into an effective military operation.
Some bereaved parents started a campaign against Hirsch’s appointment even as they admitted they had never known him personally, and acknowledged that he was only one man in an entire military machine that went unhinged. Other bereaved parents, especially those living in the war zone, in northern Israel, actually praised Hirsch for having kept the border with Lebanon calm for four years prior to the war.
Outgoing Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino will be appearing to object to the appointment. Danino believes in promotion from within the police ranks, despite the fact that only this past year has seen the dismissal of three of his top commissioners for sexual abuse of their underlings; the suicide of another top officer over a pending investigation over suspected bribery; mass demonstrations by Ethiopian Israelis against police brutality; and a State Comptroller investigation into significant operational deficiencies within the police in an affair that involved the murder of two police agents.
The Turkel Commission will also have to conclude whether the police commissioner designate acted within the boundaries of the law when he provided military consulting to two former Soviet satellites — Georgia and Kazakhstan. Hirsch, who provided strategic advice through his company, Defensive Shield, insists that he complied with security laws, to the point where an IDF representative was present in each of his meetings with his FSR clients.