A Storm of Protest Erupts in Israel over Clearing Embattled Police Brass

A decision last week by Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair to clear Israel’s police inspector general of any wrongdoing in bribery allegations has aroused a storm of public protest.

According to newspaper reports, Police Inspector General Rafi Peled allegedly took bribes in the form of greatly reduced costs for hotel stays.

Police Minister Moshe Shahal has criticized Peled for his “lack of sensitivity” in accepting the discounts, but no other official action has so far been taken against Peled.

In the aftermath of Ben-Yair’s decision not to pursue the case, politicians here are demanding that Peled be dismissed or be persuaded to resign.

A Jerusalem law student has challenged the attorney general’s ruling in a petition to the Supreme Court, claiming that a police officer of lesser rank would have received far more serious punishment.

Critics of Peled are claiming that his acceptance of discounted hotel bills represented nothing less than taking bribes.

According to published newspaper accounts, Peled and other senior police officers were entertained at hotels of the Moriah hotel chain in Tiberias and at the Dead Sea.

They were photographed relaxing in the Tiberias hotel’s whirlpool, and the pictures were later used for the hotel chain’s publicity campaign.

Peled has denied any wrongdoing, claiming that he stayed at the hotel at the invitation of the Moriah’s owner, an old personal friend, and that he granted no favors in return.

Reacting to Ben-Yair’s decision not to pursue the case, former Police Comptroller Avraham Adan told Israel Radio that Peled’s standing had been seriously weakened by media disclosures.

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