The Israel Police are working intensively to increase the number of Muslim officers and the general sense of law and order on the Arab streets, National Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich said at a ceremony in Nazareth on Tuesday.
“We are working to significantly increase the enlistment of Muslims into the police force,” Alsheich said, adding that they also “have been carrying out intensive work to strengthen police services and law enforcement and deterrence in the Arab sector across Israel.”
For the most part, plans center around opening new police stations and posts across the Arab sector to raise their profile and available manpower to respond to crimes and increase the feeling of personal security for locals.
According to Israel Police figures from 2015 presented by Alsheich, 59 percent of murders and 55% of attempted murders take place in the Arab sector, despite the fact that Arabs make up only about 21% of Israel’s population.
In addition, 58% of arsons, 47% of robberies and 32% of property crimes reported to police are in the sector, according to the figures.
Alsheich’s comments came during a swearing-in ceremony for new Northern District Head Assistant Chief Alon Asor.
Also speaking at the ceremony, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said relations between police and Arabs have come a long way since the “October 2000 Events,” when 13 Israeli Arabs were killed in rioting and clashes with police at the start of the second intifada, but that “the path is still long – we want to strengthen the ties with the Arab leadership and population, and we want many more Muslim police in our ranks.”
Police, Erdan said, are looking to reduce the number of violent crimes and traffic accidents in the Arab sector and to increase the level of citizens’ cooperation with police and in reporting crimes.
Earlier this month, police confirmed that they intend to appoint Deputy Chief Jamal Hachrush, the current deputy head of the Coastal District, as the first Muslim assistant-chief, the second- highest rank in the police force.
Hachrush will receive the rank when he is appointed to head a special police branch meant to focus specifically on problems facing the Arab sector, with emphasis on providing police services where they are currently lacking.
The plan includes construction of more than 10 new police stations in Arab communities across Israel, as well as the recruitment of more than 1,300 police from the sector over the next five years.
On Monday, Alsheich made waves when he said during a speech to bereaved families that, “It’s impossible to not feel the difference between the bereavement that I see in your eyes and that which we have seen among many of our neighbors. While we sanctify life, our enemies choose to sanctify death.”
His comments were seen as an answer of sorts to Army Radio broadcaster Razi Barkai who earlier this month compared the suffering of Israeli parents of fallen soldiers to that of the Palestinian parents of terrorists killed during attacks on Israel.