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October 1, 2016 / 28 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘State Comptroller’

One Third of Public Complaints to Israel’s Ombudsman ‘Justified’

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

Retired Judge Joseph Shapira, who serves as both State Comptroller and Ombudsman, on Monday submitted his annual Report to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.

Edelstein noted that the number of public complaints filed with the Ombudsman’s office last year – 15,000, marks an increase from 2014.

“This is a positive statistic which shows that the citizens are fighting bureaucracy and foolishness, but it also shows that there are many more issues which must be dealt with, particularly when a third of the complaints were found to be justified,” said the Knesset speaker.

“The complaints were handled in a professional, thorough and fair manner, and perhaps this will motivate citizens to file more complaints,” Edelstein added, saying, “I am certain that the people in the State Comptroller’s Office, whom I thank for their dedicated work, will provide the appropriate professional service wherever necessary.”

State Comptroller Shapira said in response that “it’s important that the public is showing concern and is not willing to ignore [violations]. There are companies where the percentage of justified complaints was [very high]. At the Israel Postal Company, for instance, some 69 percent of the complaints were found to be justified. It is [gratifying] to see that the public is taking this matter seriously. It contributes to a better society.”

Besides the postal service, the government bodies with the highest number of justified complaints were: Ministry of Transport and Road Safety – 52%, Broadcast Authority – 48%, the IDF – 44%, Israel Electric Company – 41%, and Ministry of Education – 40%.

Government agencies with 100 complaints or more in 2015 were: National Insurance Institute (Israel’s Social Security agency), The Israel Postal Company Ltd., Israel Police, Ministry of Economy and Industry, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Transport and Road Safety, Ministry of Housing and Construction, and Israel Tax Authority.

Shapira said that in 2015 he issued 20 orders which legally protect citizens who expose corruption, 15 temporary and 5 permanent. “This is above the average [number of orders],” he noted.

2015 saw an increase of 25% of complaints filed online.

State Control Committee Chairperson MK Karin Elharrar (Yesh Atid) said the report indicates that the complaints filed with the Ombudsman’s Office relate to the daily affairs of the country’s citizens. “I call on all the government offices to [work together] so that corruption will gradually subside,” she said.

The principal function of Israel’s state comptroller is to review the legality, regularity, efficiency, economy, and ethical conduct of public institutions. The reviews are performed by ongoing as well as spot inspections of the financial accounts and activities of all ministries, the armed forces and security services, local government agencies, and any corporations, enterprises, or organizations subsidized or managed by the state to any extent.

By law, the State Comptroller also functions as Ombudsman to whom members of the public may send complaints about actions by governmental bodies that have caused them harm.

JNi.Media

IDF Chief Cancels Hannibal Directive to Prevent Capture at All Cost

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot has recently ordered the cancellation of the Hannibal Directive, to be replaced by a new directive which is being worked out, Ha’aretz reported on Tuesday, citing a senior IDF source who claims the chief’s decision had been reached independent of a leaked draft of the State Comptroller which recommends taking out the Hannibal option.

According to Israeli media, the Hannibal Directive was conceived in 1986 by a group of top Israeli officers following the capture of two Israeli soldiers during a Hezbollah ambush in South Lebanon in June 1986. Both soldiers presumably died during the attack, and their bodies were returned to Israel in an exchange with Hezbollah in 1996. The directive authorizes stopping abductors by shooting at them, even if it puts captured Israeli soldiers at risk. There is a dispute as to whether the directive includes authorization to kill captured IDF soldiers when it becomes clear that they cannot be rescued. Some reports have claimed that the policy actually promotes the killing of captured soldiers to prevent the need for prisoner exchanges.

On Tuesday Israeli media reported a leak from a draft recommendation by State Comptroller Retired Judge Joseph Shapiro, which had been handed to seniors in the political, military and judiciary echelons as part of the comptroller’s report on the 2014 Gaza War.

The Hannibal Directive was last executed in connection with the kidnapping of Lt. Hadar Goldin of the Givati special force, during the Rafah battle in August 2014, remembered as Black Friday. Once it was known that Goldin had been kidnapped, a widespread chase ensued, which included infantry units as well as a mass shelling of the area, which resulted in the deaths of many civilians.

Eventually it turned out that Goldin had been killed during the kidnapping attempt, and his body is being kept as a bargaining chip by the Hamas. The Military Attorney General at the time, Gen. Danny Efroni, and the new MAG Gen. Sharon Afek have both considered and decided to forego a criminal investigation of the event, because of international criticism over the large number of collateral civilian casualties.

JNi.Media

Report on Housing Crisis to be Released Wednesday Night

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

The State Comptroller and Ombudsman will release his report on the housing crisis at 6 p.m. (11 a.m. EST) Wednesday night.

The report will cover the Olmert and Netanyahu administrations, letting Tzipi Livni and Yitzchak Herzog off the hook. They were Ministers of Housing in the Sharon government.

The Likud party is concerned that the report will blame Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for the constantly increase in the price of housing.

The Herzog-Livni “Zionist Camp” also is anxious to read the report, which they hope will boost their popularity in the pre-election polls that so far show Netanyahu as the only one who would be able to form a government coalition.

Israel’s anti-Netanyahu media, which include all of the largest networks and newspapers, already have published speculation that Netanyahu will be blamed. If the report is less dramatic than expected, it will be a major blow for Herzog-Livni, and the media will have to find some other way to undermine Likud’s popularity.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Putting Things Back Into Proportion

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

A State Comptroller audit report just came out attacking the prime minister for spending too much money on maintaining his residences and other official entertaining related expenses, and on how the money was spent.

David Shimron, the attorney of the Likud political party spoke at a press conference in Tel Aviv comparing the expenditures of the Prime Minister — who runs the country, and the President (Shimon Peres in the case of the years shown above) — who holds only a ceremonial role.

Those tall bars in orange belong to Shimon Peres, the short lines in blue belong to the Prime Minister.

Do you think they may have investigated the wrong person?

Photo of the Day

Report: Israel’s Strategic Sites Unprepared for Attack

Monday, December 29th, 2014

Israel is dangerously underprepared for rocket or missile attacks, a new government report contends.

State Comptroller Yosef Shapira took the government to task for failing to secure several strategic sites, despite having been warned as early as 2004 that the sites are at risk.

Dozens of military and civilian buildings remain vulnerable in the event of a rocket strike. In some cases, a strike could cause a chemical spill or similar disaster that would put thousands of lives in danger.

While the government has created a task force to discuss how to protect strategic sites, “this has not yet led to action,” Shapira noted.

Most of the report will remain secret to protect classified information.

It is widely assumed the ammonia reservoir in Haifa, for example, is among the strategic sites on the list. Experts say a direct strike on the reservoir could kill as many as 17,000 people. Plans to move the reservoir out of Haifa – Israel’s third-largest city – were postponed recently to 2018.

Control over protection of the strategic sites was returned to the defense ministry, and taken away from Home Front Defense in a years-long power struggle between the two.

The defense establishment was nevertheless blasted by the state comptroller for its inadequate defense of the sites.

Shapira pointed out that his was not the first report to underscore the problem: The state comptroller’s report in 2010 had also emphasized the importance of correcting the lack of protection for strategic sites.

“There has been hardly any real progress to respond to this threat. Even attempts to protect some of the sensitive civilian sites listed have gone unfinished.”

By November 2013 the “most sensitive” sites were also for the most part unprotected, Shapira noted – that, despite personal intervention by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in March 2012.

Part of the problem lay in the fight between the defense and home front command ministers over power and funding. At the close of the report in November 2013, little progress on the issue had been made.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon won the power struggle, leaving Gilad Erdan to lick his wounds with the disbanding of Home Front Defense Ministry in June 2014. By September 2014, in a final roundup, Shapira noted there was significant progress with the “short list” of most sensitive sites, but still nothing done with the others. He urged the defense ministry to “act rapidly” in light of “existing and expected threats.”

One point emphasized in the report was the lack of readiness of the reserves prior to Operation Protective Edge this summer. Shapira focused on insufficient training and full training exercises, which compromised readiness. There was insufficient supervision over this area, he said, in both IDF and civilian leadership. This conveyed a misleading image of readiness that proved dangerous for all.

The report also cited the failure by the air defense industry to meet targets for developing certain aircraft. Tens of millions of dollars were lost in that investment, the comptroller charged, public funds that drained other areas in Israeli society.

Insufficient investment in manufacturing infrastructure for national military industries was another area criticized in the report as well.

Stung, both the IDF and defense ministry responded to the report by pointing out that they had provided the best training and readiness they could offer. Both had repeatedly warned the cabinet that the promised budget – trimmed to the edge as it was – had not materialized.

The IDF and defense capabilities could not be maintained under proposed budget cuts by the Finance Ministry, they reminded, and had done the best they could with what they were given.

Hana Levi Julian

Everything You Wanted to Know about the IDF Scandal…

Monday, January 7th, 2013

Deputy Prime Minister and former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon on Monday called for a criminal investigation of the Harpaz document saga, following publication Sunday of the State Comptroller’s report that found grounds for rebuking both sides in the scandal – the IDF brass and the Defense Ministry.

“The facts published in the report are disturbing, shaking and worrying,” Ya’alon said. “It’s hard to digest the level of misconduct and the violation of the most basic values by those involved.

“Their behavior casts a dark shadow on the army and the security apparatus, and requires those involved to account for their actions. The lines were crossed in this case in the relationship between the political and military levels, in understanding where the source of authority lies, and breaking moral and ethical codes.”

According to Ya’alon, the IDF and the security apparatus are not “pawns in the hands of one office or another, or in the hands of one person or another, and they’re not anyone’s private domain.”

He said the conduct described in the report violates the public trust “and raises serious doubts and questions among commanders of all ranks, who are looking upward only to see ugly power struggles, loss of judgment and bad culture, which dishonored the IDF and the security apparatus.”

IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz said today was “a sad day for the IDF, the state of Israel, its citizens and anyone who happened near the case.”

The case has to remind those of you who are fond of British musical shows of the immortal tune They Were Only Playing Leapfrog, from Oh What a Lovely war (see video at the end).

In early April, 2010, Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced that he was not planning to extend the term of office of IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi another year. The decision damaged an already terrible relationship between Barak and the topmost soldier in the land. The State Comptroller’s review of the scandal that emerged from that decision described the Defense office and the IDF command as being in an “atmosphere of war.”

To make matters even worse, if such a thing was even imaginable, Barak decided to proceed with the appointment of Ashkenazi’s successor completely behind the latter’s back.

The candidates that were mentioned at the time as being up for the job were Generals Benny Gantz (who got the appointment), Gadi Shamni, Gadi Eisenkot, Yoav Galant and Avi Mizrahi.

On August 6, 2010 journalists Amnon Abramovitch and Roni Daniel revealed on Channel 2’s Friday night news magazine “Friday’s Studio” a document containing guidelines for building a positive image for candidate General Yoav Galant, as well as corresponding guidelines on defaming both Gabi Ashkenazi and Benny Gantz. The document bore the logo of the public relations office of a media consultant by the name of Eyal Arad.

The two journalists let their audience know that both Galant and Arad were claiming that the document was a forgery, but stressed that it was important even as such, as an illustration of the pervasive culture inside the defense community, and attested to the involvement of external players in the process of selecting the next chief of staff and the downgrading of the status of the serving chief.

Israel’s police opened an investigation following the disclosure of the document, and invited for an interrogation the Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, and IDF spokesman Brigadier General Avi Benayahu.

While the investigation was going on, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein ordered the freezing of the process of choosing a new chief of staff.

On August 19, 2010, police announced it had clear evidence that the document was, indeed, forged, but then announced that the entire IDF General Staff were cleared of criminal suspicions.

Subsequently, AG Weinstein gave the OK to continue the process of selecting a new IDF chief.

Channel 2 refused to reveal who leaked the document, but then, on August 20, 2010, Colonel (Res.) Gabi Siboni confessed to being the source.

On August 23, 2010, police arrested Lieutenant Colonel Boaz Harpaz on suspicion of falsifying the document. Investigators concluded that Harpaz passed on the document to IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Col. Erez Weiner, who passed it to Siboni.

Yori Yanover

Miriam Ben-Porat: A Woman of ‘Firsts’

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Miriam Scheinsohn was born on April 26, 1918, in Vitebsk (Belorussia), the youngest of eight children (she had three sisters and four brothers). Soon after Miriam’s birth the family moved to Kovno (Kaunas) in Lithuania, where her parents owned a textile factory.

After finishing high school in Kovno in 1936, she immigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine by herself; siblings Binyamin, Reuven and Bella soon followed her. Her brother Shimon managed to escape to Russia and her sister Rachel, to South Africa. Her parents, Chayah and Eliezer Scheinsohn and her brother Pinchas were murdered by the Germans in Lithuania in 1941.

A year after arriving in Palestine, the determined young girl from Lithuania enrolled at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem – “the first female law student at the university.” By February 1945 Miriam Scheinsohn had completed her internship and received her lawyer’s license becoming “the first woman lawyer in the Eretz Yisrael.”

A year later she met and married a fellow Eatern European immigrant, a Polish-born manufacturer, Yosef Rubinstein. They later changed their name to Ben-Porat.

In 1955 Deputy State Attorney Ben-Porat – “the first woman in this position”- became a mother — to daughter Ronit, now a mother of three.

In 1959 Ben-Porat was appointed as a judge in the Jerusalem District Court – another first. In 1975, she became the President of the Jerusalem District Court. From 1964 through 1978, she was also a professor at the Hebrew University, specializing in contracts and commercial notes. She was the only faculty member without a doctorate.

In 1977, she became “the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court.” In 1988, upon reaching the retirement age for judges, she was elected by the Knesset to be the State Comptroller. She was the first woman to serve in this position as well. After five years, she was reelected.

Upon her retirement from the Supreme Court in 1988, Ben-Porat was appointed State Comptroller and Ombudsman for Public Complaints—a position in which she was again the first woman—and she filled this role in a dynamic and innovative manner. She significantly changed the office’s modus operandi replacing scrutiny of government action after the event with preemptive reports and measures intended to prevent improper governmental behavior before it occurred. One example of such action was her report during the Gulf War (1991) about gas masks not fitting the faces of many inhabitants. As a result, they were replaced.

On July 4, 1998, she retired from her position as State Comptroller, although she stayed involved in public activity and writing. She is the author of a variety of articles published in legal journals, of a book on state comptrol (An Interpretation of the Basic Law: State Comptroller, 1998 [2005]), and a commentary on the law of assignment. She remained active in public causes, such as the battle against the destruction of antiquities on the Temple Mount. In 1991 Ben-Porat received the Israel Prize, the country’s most distinguished award, for her special contribution to the State.

On July 27, 2012, Miriam Scheinsohn Ben-Porat, a woman who paved the way, a woman of milestones – of firsts — died at the age of 94.

Prof. Livia Bitton-Jackson

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/jewess-press/impact-women-history/miriam-ben-porat-a-woman-of-firsts/2012/09/21/

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