Israeli Police Force Reorganized in Wake of Temple Mount Incident

The Israeli police force has undergone a major structural reorganization that includes the reshuffling of top personnel in the aftermath of the Temple Mount riots last month.

The unprecedented changes announced Monday were personally supervised by Police Minister Ronni Milo. They include upgrading the Jerusalem police, previously part of the southern police district, to a separate entity.

The move also includes a promotion in rank for the man who was Jerusalem’s police chief when the riots occurred Oct.8.

In fact, no member of the police received a demotion.

But the fact that changes took place was a tacit admission that the handling of the riots in which police fatally shot at least 17 Arabs on the Temple Mount left much to be desired.

An Israeli commission of inquiry headed reserve Gen. Zvi Zamir justified the police’s use of live ammunition against stone-throwers in a report it issued.

But while the panel faulted the high command — naming three top officers — for being unprepared for the disturbances despite advance intelligence that unrest was likely, it recommended no disciplinary action against anyone.

In fact, former Jerusalem Police Chief Aryeh Bibi, one of the three named by the Zamir panel, was raised in rank to commander.

However, the change in title puts him in charge of the national police’s manpower division, effective April 1, severing ties with the new Jerusalem police district he wanted to command.

The new district commander is Haim Albaldes, Jerusalem police commander from 1984-1986.

NEW UNITS TO DEAL WITH INTIFADA

Generally, the reorganization has brought a younger generation of officers to the fore. It also means a larger budget, more equipment and more manpower for the Jerusalem police.

New units will be established to deal directly with the intifada. Special efforts will be made to maintain law and order in the Old City, particularly on the Temple Mount.

The city has been relatively quiet following an outburst of violence last weekend. Beefed-up units patrolled the eastern precincts Monday wearing bullet-proof vests to protect against knife attacks.

Ofer Hajabi, the Jerusalem policeman who was stabbed in the chest Saturday by a young West Bank Arab, was not wearing a protective vest.

Hajabi remained in serious condition Monday at Hadassah-Hebrew University Hospital.

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