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Arabs activists: Police not doing enough to combat crime

CM 29/08/2021

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The Israel Police are not doing enough to combat violent crime in the Arab sector, Arab Israeli activists said on Sunday in response to the death of four people in separate incidents over the past 48 hours.
Since the beginning of the year, 74 Arabs, including 10 women, have been murdered in various incidents of violence, according to the Arab Center For Safe Society (Aman), which deals with violence and crimes within the Arab society.
The Committee of the Heads of Arab Local Authorities urged the authorities to step up their efforts to enforce law and order in Arab communities. “Only a part of Israel can be considered as a state of law,” the committee said. “The other part is plagued with lawlessness.”

The committee called on Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai to clarify the measures the police intend to take to curb the wave of violence.
“What is happening in the Arab sector is a real catastrophe,” said Kamel Rayan, Co-Director of Aman Center. “Everyone has become a target of the violence -women, children, youths and the elderly.”
Some activists said that they expected the death toll to rise in light of the failure of the police to solve many of the murder cases and confiscate illegal weapons in the Arab community.
Other activists said that they were not opposed to the idea of having the Shin Bet join the battle against violent crime in the Arab sector.
“It’s obvious that the police are incapable of dealing with this problem,” said Mohammed Haj Yahya, a businessman from the city of Taibeh. “I don’t care if the Shin Bet or even the Mossad take charge of the war on crime. We need to stop the bloodshed.”
Dr. Warda Sada, a prominent educator and political and social activist from the Galilee, said that there were two reasons behind the rise in criminal activities in the Arab sector.
First, she said, the police do not take complaints by Arabs about violence seriously, especially violence against women. Second, the police are not fighting against “corrupt elements” who support the criminals, according to Dr. Sada.
Israeli police officers wear masks (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)Israeli police officers wear masks (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
“The police need to embark on a soul-searching process,” she said. “They need to ask themselves about the source of the illegal weapons that are in the hands of civilians. Some of the weapons are coming from the IDF.”
According to Dr. Sada, the authorities have neglected the issue of crime in the Arab sector since the 80’s.
“We have seen that the police take action only when the criminal activities spread to Jewish communities,” she remarked. “The police complain about the lack of cooperation from the Arabs. Why? Many Arabs have, over the years, lost confidence in the police. For many years, the attitude of the authorities was: Let the Arabs solve their problems on their own. This resulted in an increase of crime. The absence of law enforcement in the Arab sector over the past three decades led to the emergence of family gangs and crime organizations. By neglecting the Arab community, the authorities created the impression that they care only when the violence affects Jews.”
Dr. Sada and other activists pointed out that only 10 percent of the murder cases in the Arab sector have been solved over the past few years, leading many Arabs to believe that the authorities are not interested in investing enough resources in combating the phenomenon.
“We cannot continue to bury our heads in the sand,” said Dr. Thabet Abu Rass, Co-Executive Director of The Abraham Initiative’s international board. “We have a serious problem, both within our community and with the state. The killing of the four Arab men in the past few hours is a sign of the upsurge in crime. It shows that we are going to witness a new record this year in the number of murder cases in the Arab sector.”
Noting that most of the murder cases have not been solved, Abu Rass said that the time has come for the police to invest more resources and efforts. “The police must work harder to solve the murder cases,” he said. “They also need to work harder to collect illegal weapons.”
Abu Rass said that he supported a massive crackdown on suspected criminals and the widespread phenomenon of illegal weapons.
“The police intelligence knows where the weapons are,” he told Army Radio. “There’s enough intelligence to deal with this issue.”
Weapons, body armor and fake license plates seized from residents of Nazareth by Israel Police during undercover activity. (credit: ISRAEL POLICE)Weapons, body armor and fake license plates seized from residents of Nazareth by Israel Police during undercover activity. (credit: ISRAEL POLICE)
Abu Rass claimed that there were thousands of Arab “collaborators” with the police and Shin Bet who are involved in weapons trafficking in the Arab sector. “These people are above the law,” he argued. “They are the ones who are selling the weapons and involved in money laundering. A senior police officer was quoted as saying that these collaborators enjoy immunity because they work with the Shin Bet.”
Abu Rass said that, on the other hand, he was not exonerating the leadership of the Arab community from its responsibilities toward the rise in violent crime.
“I believe that the Arab leadership needs to do a mapping of all the clan disputes to find solutions,” he said. “Ninety-nine percent of the Arabs are not involved in criminal activities. The government did a good thing by allocating NIS 2.4 billion to combat the crime. This is a good start, but we need to start working on dealing with the root causes of the crime in the Arab community, such as lack of housing and unemployment.”
Reda Jaber, Co-Director of the Aman Center, said that the problem with the state institutions’ handling of anti-crime and violence programs is that they do not want to “revolutionize” the existing ones.
“All they want is to strengthen and reformulate the exiting programs,” Jaber said. “We don’t need enhancement or reform. Instead, we need a process of rebuilding. We cannot build on what has already failed. The corrupt structures in the various institutions, whether governmental or local, cannot be built upon.”
Jaber said that he does not believe that increasing the number of police stations in Arab communities would change the situation.
“What changes the work of the police is not an increase in its stations within our society, but a fundamental change in its mindset as an institution,” he explained. “There is a gap between the development of crime and its perpetrators and between the police and its cadres. Criminals are developing, while the police are lagging behind in their performance and capabilities. The police could not, or did not, rid themselves of their relationships with criminals within our society. It is a network of relationships that clearly makes the work of the police fail. This requires a change and a revolution in the work of the police.”
According to the Aman Center, the Israeli authorities’ “negligence policy, along with some social structural changes that the Arab minority has undergone over the past years, had resulted in a high and an alarming rise in the criminality and violence rates within this minority.”
The center pointed out that since 2000, some 1,400 male and female victims of violence and criminality have been recorded in the Arab sector. “In the light of this situation, the Arab citizen has become helpless against this continuous deterioration in his own personal security and safety and that of his family,” it said. “The Arab population’s human and civil rights were seriously damaged due to the different governmental bodies’ failure to deal with this crisis. In addition, the Arab minority’s local leadership is unable to efficiently deal with the problem due to the lack of real aid.”

Source: Jerusalem Post

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