Israel's top Palestinian police officer quits amid investigation into fleeing crime scene

Israel's top Palestinian police officer quits amid investigation into fleeing crime scene
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The highest-ranking Palestinian officer in Israel’s police force has resigned after a video emerged showing him fleeing a crime scene and tripping over the body of a stabbing victim.

The highest-ranking Palestinian officer in Israel’s police force has resigned, according to a statement on Monday, a week after a video emerged showing him tripping over the body of a stabbing victim as he fled the scene of a crime in 2020.

Police said in a statement that Maj. Gen. Gamal Hakroosh tendered his resignation on Sunday, and that it would take effect Monday.

Hakroosh, 64, was appointed deputy commissioner in 2016 to lead outreach efforts to the Palestinian minority living within Israel, a historic appointment. Last week, security camera footage obtained by Israel’s Haaretz newspaper showed Hakroosh leaving the scene of a crime in 2020.

He had gone to a factory office in his hometown of Kfar Qana on business, when a fight broke out between two men, one of whom stabbed the other in the chest.

The security camera footage shows Hakroosh walking down a stairwell and tripping over the stabbed man, likely by accident, before heading out the door. He ignored the assailant, who was barricaded in another room, and did not provide first aid to the stabbed victim, Haaretz said.

Public Security Minister Omer Barlev, who is in charge of the police, thanked Hakroosh for his 44 years of service and said his resignation was appropriate. He said the police team investigating the incident would continue its work.

MENA
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Israel’s current government, the first to include a Palestinian party, has redoubled efforts to fight crime in the community.

Violent crime within the community has soared in recent years, fuelled by organised crime and family feuds. Palestinians make up around 20% of Israel’s 9.4 million people and face discrimination, with community leaders accusing authorities of ignoring crime in their communities. At the same time, distrust of Israeli police has hindered cooperation.

At least 125 Palestinians were killed in attacks in 2021, making it the deadliest year on record, according to the Abraham Initiatives, a nonprofit that promotes Jewish-Arab coexistence.