Crime scene [illustrative].
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
The cabinet on Sunday unanimously approved a multi-billion shekel plan to bolster police enforcement across the country, with emphasis on Arab communities.
Under the proposal, which was put forward by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, the government will budget NIS 2 billion over the next five years to add 10 police stations and 2,600 officers to the current force of more than 28,000.
Erdan’s office said the plan would also entail revamping 10 existing police stations, to be chosen on the basis of the local crime rate and the need for more enforcement.
He called the cabinet vote “a historic decision that will once and for all create equality in service and law enforcement between Jewish and Arab communities.”
Though Erdan’s office didn’t clarify where the 10 new stations would be located, in comments made in February, Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Roni Alsheich touted a wider plan to fight crime in the Arab community that he said would involve opening 10 new stations in the Arab sector. The plan would also include the recruitment of more than 1,300 Muslim officers who will serve under Muslim officer Dep.- Ch. Jamal Hachrush in a branch that will focus on crime in the Arab sector.
In recent months, the Israel Police and the Public Security Ministry have place renewed focus on fighting crime in the sector, which for years has been a high priority for Arab communal leaders. The renewed focus is largely the result of a January 1 shooting attack carried out on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv by an Arab from the Wadi Ara region that left three people dead. The attack brought the issue of illegal firearms in the Israeli Arab sector to the front pages, even though the gunman used a submachine gun that belonged to his father – a former police volunteer – who had a legal permit for the weapon.
The Arab sector has for many years been awash in illegal firearms, which are stolen from the security forces or from private citizens, or smuggled into Green Line Israel from the West Bank and beyond. Amateur gun smiths have also fashioned weapons using crude methods learned online.
The high number of firearms as well as the drug trade, organized crime, and family disputes are responsible for the disproportionately high crime rate in the Arab sector. According to police figures from 2015, 59 percent of murders and 55% of attempted murders take place in the Arab sector, even though Arabs make up only about 21% of the country’s population. Arab communities also account for 47% of robberies and 32% of property crimes reported to police.