The threat posed to Israeli society by violent crime is no less severe than external strategic threats, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch warned, during an annual conference on stemming violence that took place in Eilat on Wednesday.

“During these days, when the whole of the public’s awareness is focused on [events] beyond our borders, it is important to reemphasize that the internal threat is no less severe, and possibly more severe, than the external threat... and it could, over time cause the collapse of society,” Aharonovitch said.

The government is obligated to ensure that sufficient budgets and resources are available to combat violent crime and ensure the rule of law, he added.

“Violence does not stop, and it takes no rest stops,” the public security minister declared.

The anti-violence conference brought together community leaders, police officials, social workers and others. A major area of discussion was the City Without Violence program.

The program, founded in 2004, has spread to 78 regional councils and aims to coordinate efforts by the central government with those of local councils, schools and social services to reduce violent crime in urban areas.

It has seen large numbers of closed-circuit TV cameras installed in parks and schools, transmitting live video feeds to municipal control rooms.

According to data released by the program, violent incidents have dropped across several urban areas in which the program was implemented.

The government covers 47 percent of the cost, while the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, headed by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, pays for 38%. Local authorities pay for the remaining 15%.

During his address, Aharonovitch thanked all of the agencies involved in City Without Violence and offered a “special thanks” to Eckstein and the IFCJ, “who have donated to this program from the very start... and who have accompanied us and will continue to accompany us.”

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