Israel's top Arab police officer resigns amid investigation

FILE - Israeli police officer Gamal Hakroosh, center, speaks with journalists prior to a ceremony in Tel Aviv, Israel, April 13, 2016. Hakroosh, the highest-ranking Arab Muslim officer in Israel’s police force has resigned, a week after a video emerged showing him tripping over the body of a stabbing victim as he left the scene of a crime in 2020. Police said in a statement on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022, that the major-general tendered his resignation. The 64-year-old was appointed deputy commissioner in 2016 to lead outreach efforts to Israel’s Arab minority, a historic appointment. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, File) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
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JERUSALEM (AP) — The highest-ranking Arab Muslim officer in Israel’s police force has resigned, according to a statement Monday — a week after a video emerged showing him tripping over the body of a stabbing victim as he left 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 Israel’s Arab minority, 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.

Israel’s current government, the first to include an Arab party, has redoubled efforts to fight crime in the community.

Violent crime within the community has soared in recent years, fueled by organized crime and family feuds. Arab citizens 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 Arabs 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.