The Arab city of Tayibe in central Israel.
(photo credit: WIKIPEDIA)
An Arab-Israeli man was shot dead in his car on Tuesday, after leaving the ‘al-Ilm wa al-Iman’ [the faith and knowledge] mosque in the city of Tayibe, in an incident that enraged residents, both due to the crime as well as the disrespect to the holiness of the site.
In May, Kadi Iyad Zahalka – head of the High Sharia Court in Jerusalem – and Arara Council head Mudar Yunis, who chairs the Forum of Local Arab Authorities, spoke of the acute need to curb the violence that is making innocent Arab citizens fearful for their safety. He made the remarks during a festive event with President Reuven Rivlin.
Speaking with The Jerusalem Post, the spokesperson for the NGO Abraham Initiatives said that the Arab-Israeli population would very much like to receive the same quality of protection and services enjoyed by Jewish communities.
She warned that recent cuts in the police budget might lead to the closure of police stations meant to be opened in Arab communities to promote safety.
Abraham Initiatives Safe Communities co-manager Ruth Lewin-Chen told the Post that the existing violence in Arab-Israeli society has deep causes, including years of negligence and the lack of various state agents connected to it.
"For example," she said, "when people are not able to acquire land to build homes, that causes tension and aggression. [It's the] same if they don't have banking services and need to turn to loan sharks for their financial needs."
"While the police is not the cause of the tensions, it is expected to offer protection and safety to normative Arab-Israelis as it does for other citizens," she said.
Her NGO is working to promote dialog between Arab-Israeli communities and police station heads so that the real needs of residents will be addressed.
"In the past, some station chiefs would behave as they were sheriffs [in the Wild West]," she said. "That is no longer the case, and many of them are aware that they offer a service to the greater community."
Abraham Initiatives is also involved in new educational programs in Arab-Israeli schools that address violence.
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