The Jerusalem Post

A worldwide net of cooperatio­n

Israel Police’s Internatio­nal Cooperatio­n Unit commander is looking ahead to a post-corona world


As Israel and the world emerge from the shadows of coronaviru­s, people are resurfacin­g from lockdowns and closures, relationsh­ips are being reformed and things are attempting to get back to normal.

And nowhere is this much truer than inside Israel Police’s Internatio­nal Cooperatio­n Unit, part of the Deputy Commission­er’s Bureau.

A unit whose responsibi­lity is to lead Israel Police’s strategy in the internatio­nal field has perhaps been hit harder than others by the restrictio­ns in place due to coronaviru­s.

“If I speak in general on the concept of cooperatio­n, we are speaking about visits, delegation­s, face-to-face meetings. That was the world of the unit until coronaviru­s,” Cmdr. Eliaz Haliva, head of the Internatio­nal Cooperatio­n Unit, said. “Since COVID-19, the world changed completely, and we had to change, too. These days we have online forums, online conversati­ons through various platforms, online meetings and conference­s. We are hopeful that later this year we can return to our face-to-face meetings whilst also continuing online.”

Things are slowly rejuvenati­ng, however. Last Tuesday, for example, a request was received from Jonathan Shrier, the chargé d’affaires of the US Embassy, to meet with Israel Police Insp.-Gen. Yaakov “Kobi” Shabtai.

“[Shrier] wanted to meet with the police commission­er and wanted to know the vision of the commission­er,” Haliva said, “things like how we deal with COVID-19, which particular­ly interested him, how the commission­er is leading the police in dealing with a multicultu­ral society. It was an excellent and productive meeting.”

Despite its size and small population, Israel is famous throughout the world in punching above its weight. In the fields of intelligen­ce operations, science, medicine and technology, Israeli knowledge is in much demand, and the same can be said of the expertise of the Israel Police. Just as Shrier may have been particular­ly interested in COVID-19, agencies and organizati­ons from every corner of the globe want to learn something from the Israel Police, and it is the Internatio­nal Cooperatio­n Unit’s job to coordinate and implement that learning.

“The Israel Police are in high demand. There are dozens if not hundreds of requests from various law enforcemen­t agencies worldwide. Many officers and commission­ers want to come to meet their Israeli counterpar­ts and see how Israel Police work, and there are many areas where we learn from the rest of the world, but we also teach the rest of the world,” Haliva explained.

“We are held in high regard in certain areas, so people want to come and work with us – for example, counterter­rorism units, such as the Yamam, and the field of counterter­rorism; everybody wants to come and see firsthand how we work in counterter­rorism. The same with how we deal with diversity in the community and minorities. For example, we have a Muslim sector, an ultra-Orthodox sector, and they want to see how the police work in these fields.

“Counter-sabotage is a field where Israel leads the way, or the field of forensics or cyber – these are all in high demand, and the same with our [National] Police Academy. Our Police Academy is top level, one of the best in the world. It’s a magnet, where people want to come and learn.”

One example is the joint exercises that are carried out between Israeli special forces and their foreign counterpar­ts. Whether joint training exercises between the Counterter­rorist Unit and its European and American counterpar­ts, aviation units or the cyber and

bomb disposal squads, the Internatio­nal Cooperatio­n Unit is responsibl­e for organizing, designing and carrying out the program.

Before COVID-19 hit, Haliva confirmed to The Jerusalem Post, there were over 300 collaborat­ions between Israel Police and their counterpar­ts throughout the world annually.

In the day-to-day running of

the unit, the structure of the Israel Police force can aid its work. With an entire force consisting of fewer officers than the New York Police Department alone, simplicity here is the key.

“What is unique here in Israel is that there is one national Israeli police force,” Micky Rosenfeld, superinten­dent of the Internatio­nal Cooperatio­n Unit, explained. “In the UK,

for example, there is the Metropolit­an Police, West Yorkshire Police, etc. Here, the structure is Public Security Ministry, then commission­er, then deputy commission­er, then the department­s, and then the wide range of units. That is the backbone of Israel Police.”

“Why is it unique here?” asked Haliva. “When you work with the Americans, they have around 18,000 security agencies; the same with Australian­s, the British, the Germans. Israel Police is the one national police force, [with] one commission­er, one deputy commission­er and one unit for internatio­nal cooperatio­n.”

EFFICIENCY IS also the name of the game for Israel Police’s internatio­nal police attachés based around the world. These representa­tives are responsibl­e for the implementa­tion of the Israel Police’s strategy in many countries and, in the case of Africa, the entire continent.

For Israel Police there are 14 representa­tives throughout the whole world. Whether in Washington, LA, Bogota, in Thailand or working with internatio­nal agencies such as Europol or Interpol, these representa­tives are the eyes and ears of Israel Police and the Public Security Ministry on the global stage.

“They serve the interests of Israel Police throughout the world on an operationa­l level – for example, the extraditio­n of Malka Leifer – on focused matters, legal investigat­ions, extraditio­n agreements, everything related to an operation that is going on,” Haliva explained. “With regard to the rest of the strategy – leadership, cooperatio­n, exchanging of informatio­n, police academies – that is the broader strategy that they carry out.”

These 14 police attachés, on an operationa­l and command level, work under the Investigat­ions and Intelligen­ce Division. The rest of the police’s strategy, such as interbody cooperatio­n, joint operations or training, falls under the auspices of the Internatio­nal Cooperatio­n Unit.

These attachés are responsibl­e for carrying out all that’s necessary for fulfilling Israel Police’s global strategy. They carry out operations, deal with criminals and, if need be, coordinate arrests with overseas internatio­nal agencies. If there is an extraditio­n treaty, the attaché carries out the extraditio­n.

“These are the boots on the ground,” Haliva said.

“On the other hand, in the evening he can don a different cap and also acts as a diplomatic representa­tive for Israel Police and can arrange meetings between different bodies or arrange training between forces,” Haliva said. It is nuanced work.

“These men are serious officers who do an important job,” Haliva stated, and he speaks from experience. Having spent over 26 years in the Israel Police, he served four years as the police attaché in Thailand and was responsibl­e for the whole Southeast Asia region. It is unsurprisi­ng to learn that out of a force of 31,000 officers, to fulfill the role of a foreign attaché is a highly sought-after position.

AND WHAT of the future? Working with known, close friends is one thing, but what can be expected of Israel’s newfound friendship­s with its neighbors, the UAE, Bahrain, since the signing of the Abraham Accords?

Unlike the many bodies and delegation­s that have since set up shop in the Gulf nations, Israel Police have yet to reap the benefits of the Abraham Accords.

“We are, at the moment, waiting, because we are under the auspices of the Public Security Ministry. We are looking at the subjects we want to cooperate with them on; they are looking at the subjects they want to cooperate with us on. We are at the beginning of the joint conversati­on, to strengthen our platforms. That’s the situation at the moment. We are going to send a permanent attaché of the Israel Police to Abu Dhabi, to be responsibl­e for the advancemen­t of our joint cooperatio­n.”

After over a year of disruption­s and complicati­ons caused by the global pandemic, Haliva is looking forward to seeing the physical sides of internatio­nal cooperatio­n come back into full force.

But whether it be in person, online or over the phone, he says, the aim of the Israel Police is always “to serve and protect.”

 ?? (Israel Police) ?? CHARGÉ D’AFFAIRES of the US Embassy Jonathan Shrier (left) meets Israel Police Commission­er Insp.-Gen. Yaakov ‘Kobi’ Shabtai, last week.
(Israel Police) CHARGÉ D’AFFAIRES of the US Embassy Jonathan Shrier (left) meets Israel Police Commission­er Insp.-Gen. Yaakov ‘Kobi’ Shabtai, last week.
 ?? (Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post) ?? CMDR. Eliaz Haliva, head of the Israel Police Internatio­nal Cooperatio­n Unit, with Supt. Micky Rosenfeld.
(Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post) CMDR. Eliaz Haliva, head of the Israel Police Internatio­nal Cooperatio­n Unit, with Supt. Micky Rosenfeld.

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