Photo Credit: courtesy, Itamar Ben Gvir via Twitter
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir and Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai, on Jan. 1, 2023

Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai made a public apology in a live broadcast Saturday night, saying he “made a mistake” in approving the early removal of Tel Aviv District Police Commander Ami Eshed.

Shabtai directly defied his boss, National Security Commissioner Itamar Ben Gvir, in making the statement. Ben Gvir told Israel’s KAN 11 News public broadcaster that Shabtai had told him two months ago that Eshed was a “failed commander” and he wanted him out.


Nevertheless, Shabtai announced on national television, “I was wrong. I was wrong in my judgment, in my timing and in the way I carried out the decision.”

It is notable that Shabtai didn’t say he was rescinding the decision, only temporarily freezing it do the Attorney General’s orders.

Shabtai also said during his remarks that police officers have been protecting the “freedom to protest in the State of Israel” and said that even if there were doubts about specific incidents, “we investigated them.”

The police commissioner announced he would embrace the call by Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara to freeze Eshed’s transfer, which originally was to take place after the conclusion of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan – typically a high-security period in which terrorists ramp up their attacks.

He emphasized that National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir had “decided alone on the timing” of the move, even though he said the move came as part of a “round of appointments that the Israel Police has long been preparing for.”

It was made clear several days ago that he agreed with the minister’s decision.

Baharav-Miara said in a statement from her office on Friday morning that the transfer would be frozen, claiming that an initial examination of Eshed’s transfer “raised severe concern as to the legality and soundness of the process, including the motives informing the decision, the timing of the announcement and its background.

“Thus, the attorney general has instructed the relevant bodies to freeze all decisions and actions in Deputy Commissioner Eshed’s case, pending the orderly completion of the necessary legal review.

“Let it be clear that until the review is completed … Eshed will remain in his position,” the attorney general declared.

The announcement of Eshed’s transfer to a training base had been followed by howls of protest by former commanders and even some friends of the police commissioner, who urged him to walk back the move.

Several of those who protested the move called on Shabtai to resign – but he added Saturday night that he had no intention of leaving his post.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.