(JTA) — Israel’s public security minister said he would meet the parents of fallen soldiers who oppose the appointment of Gal Hirsch, a retired general, as police commissioner.
Several bereaved parents protested the appointment of Hirsch, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan’s pick to rehabilitate the Israel Police from a string of scandals involving corruption, sexual harassment and alleged racism, citing perceived failures in Hirsch’s performance as brigadier general during the 2006 war in Lebanon against Hezbollah.
“I can’t believe this man even accepted this position,” Ham Tzemach, whose son, Oz, died in Bint Jbel, Lebanon, after saving the lives of several of his comrades, told Army Radio on Thursday. “He is unfit. He killed my son and now he will lead 30,000 police officers and again be trusted with people’s lives. This is a nightmare.”
Erdan defended Hirsch as a capable officer who had been unjustly accused of the failures of his superiors. Erdan and several of the parents leading the protest are scheduled to meet Friday. Hirsch’s appointment is to be reviewed next week by a government-appointed panel.
Hirsch, who commanded the Israel Defense Force’s northern 91st Division that year, retired months after the war, which a government-appointed commission of inquiry found had been grossly mismanaged. The committee partially blamed him for circumstances surrounding the war’s trigger: Hezbollah’s slaying of eight troops in a cross-border raid.
However, the committee’s chair, Eliyahu Winograd, this year said the findings against Hirsch were unjustified, as he had prepared his units for exactly such a scenario but did not receive the necessary backing from then-Chief of Staff Dan Halutz.