Sea police

Author name: Barak Ilan Anthony, Superintendent Commander of the Tel-Aviv Marine Police 07.01.2020

My name is Barak Ilan Anthony and I have been the commander of the Tel Aviv Marine Police Unit for about two years.

The end of the decade is an excellent opportunity to tell you about my department, the police officers and amazing volunteers who serve in it, and our remarkable cooperation with the marine branch of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority under the command of Yigal Ben-Ari.

The Tel Aviv Marine Police includes 14 officers and about 25 volunteers, all under my command. The unit is responsible for an enormous area, from the border of Hadera in the north to the border of Ashdod in the south – a strip of beach of about 64 kilometers, and 12 miles deep into the sea. Control over such a large area is only possible by having police officers and volunteers who are both professional and have a strong work ethic. The officers and volunteers in the unit act with great bravery, and often with risk to their own lives, to save the lives of others, and for that they deserve much appreciation. I am proud to lead this team.

There are a number of tools available to the police officers – including boats, jet skis, and all-terrain vehicles that can reach every beach. With these tools, the officers respond to a variety of events ranging from enforcement to maintaining public order, rescues, and removals from the water. Throughout 2019, the officers enforced the law against dozens of criminals and simultaneously extracted and rescued dozens of people from the water; they even saved animals that were injured or caught in distress and were taken for rehabilitation.

The main task of our unit is maintaining order and enforcing the law along the coastline, working against criminals with a focus on repeat offenders. Enforcement is carried out mainly by using management reports from the Ministry of Transport. We can also access the criminal justice system, including opening an investigation in exceptional cases.

Over the past two years the unit has worked aggressively against offenders with multiple heavy fines, some even brought to trial, but alongside them, to my delight, I have found many sailors demonstrating good citizenship and seamanship. Many fishers have also realized that it is better to work within the law, and today there is a group of disciplined fishers who strictly obey the law, and for that they deserve much appreciation.

In addition, we have a long-standing tradition in our unit of adopting at-risk populations, something in which we see great added value and a sense of purpose. This activity is mostly centered around the Israeli Police’s make a wish project, which helps fulfills the dreams of critically ill children and children in need. We try to create a positive experience for boys or girls who aspire to be an “officer for the day,” where one of the main attractions is a visit to the marine police unit and a trip on the police boat. We also try, as much as possible, to expose the unit to at-risk youth. All youth-centered activity is highly valued in our unit.

Finally, it is important to mention the exceptional cooperation with the marine department of the Israeli Nature and Parks Association (INPA) under the command of Yigal Ben-Ari. This is a recently established department that is developing strongly. I have found that the INPA marine department is staffed by professional rangers who use good judgement and are sensitive to the public, and therefore we decided to help one another, and now have an exemplary cooperation. The implication is that citizens/offenders who refuse to cooperate with the rules of the INPA rangers will end up facing the marine police, who may detain them for questioning and open a criminal file. In addition, we protect any lawfully acting rangers from intimidation or harm and take a strong stand against any threats.

In conclusion I would like to thank the marine police officers around the country, and in particular officers and volunteers in the Tel Aviv marine police unit. I’d like to thank all the groups that work with us in partnership, all in the best interest of the public, and finally the larger marine community in all its variety, including the protesters and promoters of civic good.

I wish everyone a safe and enjoyable new year.

Barak Ilan Anthony , Superintendent Commander of the Tel-Aviv Marine Police.

Translated by Daphna Shapiro Goldberg