Israeli crime is rampant. Empty election promises won't change that
Israeli police officers close a street party during the Jewish holiday of Purim,to prevent large gatherings and the spread of Covid-19 virus in Jerusalem February 28, 2021.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
If the citizens of a country don’t feel safe, it’s time for action. Pledging a billion shekels to fight crime in the Arab sector two weeks before the March 23 election is a campaign ploy.
Police arrested two residents of a Bedouin village in the South for assaulting an IDF soldier and stealing his M16 rifle in the North’s Haruvia Forest last Thursday.Kalansuwa Municipality Director-General Ashraf Khatib was shot and wounded by unidentified gunmen on Saturday in an apparent assassination attempt. And last month, Three Bedouin burglars snuck into a house in an unnamed southern community, allegedly raping a 10-year-old girl in her room as her parents slept, according to police.“Something is totally messed up in the war on crime – it’s total anarchy,” her father told Channel 13 News. Over the past months, thieves have stolen military equipment, vehicles and ammunition from IDF bases in the Negev.These are just a few recent examples of lawlessness and violence across Israel, amid accusations that authorities have failed to rein in crime gangs in the Arab and Bedouin communities. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he traveled with Public Security Minister Amir Ohana to the Bedouin city of Rahat in the South on Sunday and pledged to allocate NIS 1 billion to eradicate crime in the Arab sector. “You deserve to live in Rahat and any other town without mothers being afraid to send their children outside and without the fear of violence, blackmail or protection,” Netanyahu said. “We will eradicate that.”What is clear is that law and order must be maintained in Israel, no matter who is in the government. The country faces a daunting enough challenge already as it opens up an economy devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Allowing parts of the Holy Land to become like the Wild West is untenable, and threatens the very foundation of Israeli society.If the citizens of a country don’t feel safe, it’s time for action. Pledging a billion shekels to fight crime in the Arab sector two weeks before the March 23 election can only be seen as a campaign ploy to garner Arab votes. It came just three days after tens of thousands demonstrated in the northern city of Umm el-Fahm to protest violence in the Arab sector and the conduct of police, who had forcibly dispersed a similar demonstration the previous week. MK Mansour Abbas (Ra’am), who broke away from the Joint List after political overtures from Netanyahu, was whisked away by security guards after being assaulted by protesters.“We’ve come here as Arabs and Jews to say ‘enough to the raging crime in the Arab sector,’ and to demand personal safety,” Meretz MK Esawi Frej said at the protest.There is some justification to the demands of the protesters. In 2020, according to police, there were 113 murders in Arab communities in Israel, making it the deadliest year ever.Many blame the violence on organized crime, accusing police of not devoting sufficient resources to root it out in Arab communities, which have for too long suffered from official neglect.Enforcing the law means protecting members of the society as well as punishing wrongdoers. In Israel, all citizens deserve to live in an environment in which they can feel safe no matter who they are – Arabs or Jews. The key to maintaining law and order is taking effective measures, but these have to be ordered from the top – the government and the Public Security Ministry – and carried out properly by law-enforcement agencies, from the police to the courts.For reasons that are not clear – perhaps a lack of clear policies, insufficient funds and human resources, or ineffective law enforcement – this is not happening in Israel today.For decades, Arab communities in Israel opposed a strong police presence, but they are now crying out for help from the authorities. More police stations have been promised and more Arabs should be recruited as police officers. There also needs to be greater cooperation with local leaders to fight crime in the Arab sector.This is an issue that affects the whole of Israeli society, not just one sector. We urge the powers-that-be to take firm action now – before it’s too late.