The Haifa District Court on Thursday cleared for publication the existence of an internal affairs investigation within Israel Police. Considered one of the gravest affairs in police history, the investigation was under a gag order for the past month.
According to initial investigation details, five police officers have been implicated in the assassination attempt of Michael Mor, a known Nahariya criminal.
The five allegedly targeted Mor in retaliation to several grenades being thrown at a police detective's home. The affair also implicated a sixth man, called "the engineer", who allegedly supplied the officers with the explosives.
Police forces in northern Israel have been battling Mor's "crime family" for years. Mor himself was recently sentenced to 21 months in prison for throwing three grenades at Nahariya Mayor Jackie Sabag's house and on a police detective's house in October of 2006.
According to the investigation, after failing to implicate Mor in the incidents, the five suspects decided to take the law into their own hands.
According to the indictment, the suspects met in Yehiam Forest on the night of October 22, 2006 to test the explosives. Later they returned to the forest to pick up the explosives, and two of the suspects continued to Mor's home. Two other suspects drove to the apartment of Mor's relative.
The suspects, the indictment said, then set the time bombs for 35 minutes, giving them ample time to place the devices and flee the scene.
The device placed in the apartment window exploded, causing damage to the premises. Mor found the second device and called in the bomb squad, which was able to disarm it. Both charges, said the police, were irregular, made with substandard explosives and timers and designed to be remotely activated.
The initial police investigation was held under the impression that Mor's rivals had placed the explosives, but several months into the investigation things took an unexpected turn, when Akko Police intelligence officer Haim Moshe was arrested on suspicion of weapons trafficking.
During his investigation, Moshe offered information about "an internal organization" against Mor and his men. Moshe implicated several of his fellow officers and a formal, secret, internal affairs investigation was launched.
'Crossing the line'
Due to the sensitive nature of the investigation, police petitioned the Haifa District Court asking for a gag order, citing "probable risk to human lives" as their cause.
"This is crossing the red line," a senior officer at the police's northern command told Ynet Thursday. "A police officer will never harm a civilian, no matter what the circumstance. All of the officers involved were previously threatened by Mor and his gang, but anyone saying the police wasn't doing anything about it is wrong."
As soon as those involved are indicted, added the officer, they will be terminated from the police force. "They're not police officers, they are criminals. Criminals!
"But everyone has to understand that this is an isolated case which was treated immediately and with a firm hand… anyone sympathetic to their actions will be brought up on disciplinary charges," said the officer.
Northern District Police Commander, Major-General Shimon Koren was outraged: "There is no cover-up. This is a despicable thing, unworthy of forgiveness," he told Ynet.
Koren stressed the fact that this was a sole incident within the police force: "No matter what the rationalization is, no police officer can cross the lines like this and remain in the force."
The arrest of the five police officers sent shockwaves throughout the police force. Brigadier-General Nir Mariash, Commander of the Galilee District, Ynet was told, has begun holding meetings with the various divisions in the northern police district, detailing the gravity of the events.
The police officers were indicted for conspiracy to harm using explosives – a felony carrying a 15-year prison sentence. A separate indictment against the civilian involved is expected at a later date.
Should the five be convicted, a senior source in the police force told Ynet, the event will be "earth shattering": "They might as well close the police force down. If senior police officers resort to the same kinds of actions as criminals, what else is there? This is just inconceivable."
Sources in the Justice Ministry told Ynet the event was "a grave breach of trust": "All the red lines were crossed here… Michael Mor was under 24-hour surveillance by the police for a very long time… they knew exactly who was living in the apartment and they knew only his wife and children use the jeep. What if one of them had gotten hurt? This is a serious breach all known norms and a grave breach of trust."
Israel Police, said an official statement Thursday, "utterly denounces the officers' behavior… they recklessly endangered the reputation of thousands of honest, dedicated police officers who work for the public's benefit."
Efrat Weiss contributed to this report