On June 1, The Committee of the Victims’ Families of October 2000 presented an appeal to the Supreme Court against Benzi Sau and Public Security Minster (former head of the Shabak) Avi Dichter. The appeal called to cancel the promotion of Benzi Sau for the post of Head of Operations to the Public Security Minister (considered high-ranking in the Public Security Ministry).
Benzi Sau was one of the most prominent high-ranking officers on the scene during protests of the Arab minority in the October 2000 events, and particularly so in Umm el-Fahm. Sau was also one of those responsible for ordering the use of snipers on 2 October 2000, which resulted in the death of Misleh Abu Jarad and wounded many others. On 1 October, Sau also led the police to Umm el-Fahm to occupy the home of the Qahawesh family. A lot of shots were fired towards demonstrators which resulted in the killing of two people - Ahmad Jabareen and Mohammad Jabareen, and wounding scores of others. For these reasons the Or Commission recommended that Sau not be given a raise for four years from the date of their report’s publication - from September 2003 till September 2007.
On 26 May 2006, however, Sau was promoted by Avi Dichter to the role of Head of the Minister’s Operational Staff Unit, a major step up from being a high-ranking officer in the Border Guards unit. Sau now sets the agenda for the Public Security Minister and prioritises issues relevant to the Ministry.
The appointment of Sau is illegal and tantamount to a promotion in a manner which runs contrary to the law and the recommendations of the Or Commission in this regard. On July 27, the Supreme Court, in its hearing of the case, suggested reviewing the decision to promote Sau. However, the State Prosecutor told the Supreme Court last week that the Public Security Minister had refused this suggestion to reconsider the promotion. The reason given was that placing Sau in this position could not be considered ‘a promotion’; therefore it does not contradict the recommendations of the Or Commission.
This claim by the Public Security Minister, and endorsed by the Attorney General, that Sau’s appointment is not a promotion is simply erroneous. Sau, as Head of the Minister’s Operational Staff Unit, now has the authority to override the opinion of even the Police Chief in his recommendations on the priorities of the police force’s work and the best means of achieving these priorities. Moreover, Sau is able to participate, along with the Minister of Public Security, in high-level government meetings concerning security, including at cabinet level, at which all security matters in Israel are discussed, and not only those relating to the police. The claim that Sau’s appointment is not a promotion appears to be a deliberate attempt to sideline the Or Commission’s recommendations and also to toy with words so that those words fit their agenda.