Outgoing Tel Aviv police commander admits treating left-wing protesters with kid gloves

Painting himself as a victim, former District Commander Ami Eshed acknowledges that he ignored orders from his superiors to break up illegal protests, admits that he treated left-wing demonstrators with soft touch in order to ‘prevent civil war.’

By World Israel News Staff

Outgoing Tel Aviv District Police Commander Ami Eshed, whose resignation speech sparked large protests throughout major cities in Israel on Wednesday evening, admitted in a press conference that he had refused orders to forcibly disperse illegal left-wing protests.

Portraying himself as a victim of right-wing pressure, Eshed acknowledged that the police in the Tel Aviv area had afforded special treatment to anti-judicial reform demonstrators.

For the last several months, demonstrators opposed to potential reforms to Israel’s legal system have blocked major thoroughfares and highways, lit fires, and stalked and harassed lawmakers outside of their homes, with little to no interference from police.

Following weeks of refusal to follow instructions from Public Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai to break up illegal protests, Eshed was reassigned from his post to head a police training center – a move which was widely seen as a demotion.

Rather than accept the reassignment, Eshed resigned and gave a dramatic press conference in which he accused Ben-Gvir and Shabtai of pressuring him to enforce the law, which he characterized as “illegal” and “interference in internal decision making.”

Eshed said he was “paying a terrible cost for my choice to prevent civil war” and claimed that he “could have easily used disproportionate force and filled the ER at Ichilov [Hospital] at the end of every demonstration in Tel Aviv.

“We could have cleared Ayalon [Highway] within minutes at the terrible cost of cracking heads and breaking bones, at the cost of breaking the pact between police and the citizenry,” he added.

“A district commander must not avoid stating their opinion, must not bend their values.”

Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu (Religious Zionism) told Radio 103 FM on Thursday morning that Eshed’s comments confirmed that his removal from his post was the correct decision.

“He was expected to follow orders, as happens in any democratic country,” Eliyahu said of Eshed. “I am very happy that Ami Eshad is leaving the police. We need to get [toxins] out [of the police force.]”

Speaking about the double standard regarding police enforcement towards left-wing protesters, Eliyahu said that “one of the things that is important to adhere to in any democratic country is the principle of equality. When a certain group is privileged and receives preferential treatment, this results in distrust and may lead to anarchy and the loss of power.”

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