Brigadier General Eli Assayag, head of the Financial Investigations Unit within the Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit and lead investigator in two corruption cases involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has announced his retirement on Thursday.
Assayag, who has served in the police force for the past 35 years, announced his intentions to retire, apparently due to not being promoted during a recent round of police appointments.
Three years ago, Assayag was appointed the head of Lahav 433’s Financial Investigations Unit, which held the most sensitive investigations regarding government corruption in Israel.
In addition, he was the lead investigator in the Submarine Affair - in which Israeli officials allegedly advocated the purchase of submarines in return for financial benefits - and Case 4000 - in which Netanyahu is suspected of taking bribes to promote regulations benefiting communication conglomerate Bezeq in return for favorable coverage on the Walla! News website.
Assayag was supposed to be promoted to the rank of major general but was instead appointed commander of Lahav 433 by Acting Police Chief Motti Cohen.
Assayag reportedly assembled the senior command staff of his Investigations unit on Thursday and informed them of his decision which will take effect as early as the next two months.
"It just hurts to see how talented officers like Assayag decide to leave the system," a senior police official said. "The situation the police finds itself in right now only serves to hurt excellent officers who we are losing. There is no doubt that [Assayag] will not be the last to retire because of the prevailing situation."
Israel Police has not had a police commissioner since 2018, when then-Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan announced he intends to replace outgoing police commissioner Roni Alsheikh instead of extending his term, citing "differences of opinion."
Up until now, no new commissioner has been appointed, despite several candidates being proposed over the years.