Anti-judicial reform protests are compromising police’s ability to fight crime: Senior cop

Rather than fight an uptick in crime, officers are being redirected to manage mass protests, says senior police official.

By World Israel News Staff

Left-wing demonstrations, which often include illegal activities such as blocking major highways, require a significant amount of police manpower and are compromising authorities’ ability to fight crime, particularly in the Arab sector, a senior police official said on Thursday.

“The protests are paralyzing thousands of police officers on a national scale. The [officers] are supposed to be fighting crime in Arab communities, but in the end, they are not able to focus on criminal [investigations,” Central District Commander Avi Biton told Army Radio.

Rather than battling spiraling crime among Arab organized crime families, police officers are being redirected to manage massive protests, the senior cop explained.

“[The officers who manage protests] are coming from police stations, special units, and they’re busy maintaining public order instead of handling crime,” Biton continued.

The police have been forced “to reassign thousands of officers to public order work, which has resulted in very significant harm to addressing criminal activity and organized crime.”

Biton added that he would like to be considered for the role of Israel’s police commissioner, a position currently filled by Kobi Shabtai. He is set to step down when his term expires in January 2024.

“I see myself as ready to lead the organization in the coming years,” Biton said. “It’s a very meaningful challenge for me and I always aspire for more.”

The Protest Headquarters umbrella group, which organizes numerous anti-government protests, released a statement condemning Biton’s statement.

“The central district commander’s comments are an insult to Israeli citizens’ intelligence and hurts most of all the police and the public’s trust in it.”

The group added that it believes Biton’s commnets were politically motivated and made in order “to secure a promotion and curry favor with history’s most failed police minister,” referring to National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.