A confidential Israeli source tells me prominent Israeli attorney, Ronel Fisher, closely associated with the highest ranking Israeli police commanders, including the chief, Yochanan Danino, was arrested on Thursday. He is to be held in custody and questioned for five days. Fisher is suspected of being the conduit for a $200,000 extortion attempt meant for his pals in the police. Fisher, was recorded telling the labor chief of the port of Ashdod, Alon Hassan, that he could arrange for all criminal charges against him to “go away” in return for payment of the bribe. Also arrested was Oshra Assaf, the incoming director of the national police support organization, the Union for Police Officer Rights.
Hasson is the Histadrut labor boss for the port of Ashdod. You can imagine what a gold mine such a job can be. Not only could you extort money from workers for the privilege of employment there, the shipping companies would need your assistance in “expediting” their shipments. Hassan has been embroiled in multiple corruption investigations. And he’s not a nice man: in one Facebook posting he wished his Friends Shabbat Shalom and told his enemies (those investigating him) that he would bury them:
All that happens to us happens for the good even if we don’t fully understand [why]. As I’ve always said: there’s only one truth. In conclusion, I have only one thing to say: whoever has dug me a grave will be buried in it [himself] by me.
A bit like On the Waterfront meets the Godfather. It has the makings of a movie already!
Looking at both their photos calls to mind the more reptilian, sybaritic tendencies of the human race.
Fisher was the in-house counsel for the Investigations branch of the police and was himself a State prosecutor at one time. He has long had a reputation for corrupt dealings. News1 wrote last May that he was suspected of demanding a $2-million bribe in return for dismissal of charges against the legal advisor of the cities of Rishon Le’Zion and Rehovot. When the city official refused to pay, the investigation, which had been secret, became public. News1 also notes that the corrupt attorney succeeded in amassing vast sums from such an extortion racket.
Among those accused of accepting payments from Fisher are the State prosecutor directing cases of public corruption, and police commanders Bruno Stein and Ephraim Bracha. It’s believed Fisher had access to information about secret police investigations which may’ve been provided to him by senior police officials. He accepted as clients suspects who were being investigated by his police officer clients (thereby setting up the potential extortion). When clients like Bracha got into trouble (for his involvement in the scandal involving Rabbi Yoshiahu Pinto) and was in danger of being fired, Fisher exploited this too for his own benefit.
Before police raided the Ashdod port, Fisher is reported to have warned targets of the investigation, giving them time to destroy documents and cleanse the records.
It appears that News1’s investigative journalism prodded an unwilling State prosecutor to pursue and build a case against Fisher and the police leadership
Fisher is a well-regarded figure in the Israeli media often called upon to offer his learned analysis on legal affairs. He’s also participated in Israeli reality TV programs. Haaretz’s publisher, Amos Schocken is reported to have buried a major investigative piece about Fisher after the two held a meeting. When he worked for the publisher of Maariv, Fisher was reputed to have extorted bribes from public figures about whom he threatened to publish exposes. That might explain why he’s been treated with kid gloves till now. A confidential Israeli source tells me that the Minister for Public Security, Yitzhak Aharonovitch, told close associates about the new charges:
“All the senior commanders, including Danino, will be forced to resign.”
Naturally, the arrest of Fisher is under gag. Many details of the charges have been published at News1.
Those who follow this blog will recall many posts I’ve written confirming the level of corruption, racism and brutality inside the Israeli police. I’ve specifically recounted the numerous failures involved in both the Hebron kidnap-murders and the murder of Mohamed Abu Khdeir. This new case only confirms what is already known about this failed agency. For the Hebrew speakers among you, peruse this pertinent News1 article, Liars in Blue, which documents on a week-by-week basis the serial mendacity of the Israeli police.
Due to the unusually tragic nature of events over the past week, my blog has had 33,000 unique visits over the past five days. That should continue considering that Israelis have no other outlet than this post to find out about a major development inside their own country. Ironically, Israel’s opacity is what fuels the popularity of this blog.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.