Israeli-Arabs seek more policing but don’t trust police, survey indicates

54% of Israeli-Arabs say violence is a problem in their communities.

July 11, 2017 22:12
2 minute read.

Isreali police clash with protesters in the Israeli Arab town of Umm el-Fahm during a demonstration against Israel’s military operation. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The majority of Israeli-Arabs do not trust the Israel Police, but an even greater majority supports the establishment of police stations in their largely under-served communities, a Statnet research institute poll found.

The poll was commissioned by the Abraham Fund Initiative and interviewed 402 Israeli-Arabs, with a 4.9% margin of error.

In addition the same survey was administered to Jewish-Israelis and city-wide surveys were conducted in the crime afflicted Israeli-Arab towns of Jisr e-Zarka, Tamra, and Kafr Kassem.

According to the survey 59% of the Arab public indicated that they have no trust at all in the police or a low level of trust. Jewish participants showed a similar rate of distrust at 54%. Moreover 54% of the Arab respondents said there is problem of violence in their communities compared to 14% of Jewish respondents.

Looking at the citywide surveys, the level of personal insecurity is drastically higher than the national rate for Israeli-Arabs; in Jisr e-Zarka 95% said there is problem with violence, along with 74% in Tamra, and 78% Kafr Kassem.

However, the survey also showed that an overwhelming 70% of Israeli-Arabs are in favor of combating violence in their communities and 77% support the establishment of police stations in their communities.

“These are surprising statistics because the survey shows that there are two sides to the Arab sector; on one side they have significant distrust of the police, but on the other, they also want and are willing to help fight the crime in their communities,” said Rasool Saada, director of the Abraham Fund’s “Safe Communities” initiative.

The survey comes as the Israel Police and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan are seeking to increase policing in Arab communities amid waves of accusations from Israeli-Arab community leaders and MKs that the police don’t carry out daily policing in their communities, but instead treat the Arab population as a security threat. Tensions between the police and Arab citizens periodically flare up when police enter Arab communities to destroy homes built without permits or carry out raids.

Thirty-eight Arab civilians have been murdered since 2017 and around 80% of illegal weapons in Israel are kept in these communities, according to police statistics.

Last week Erdan and the police initiated an Arabic media campaign seeking to increase trust in the police and the recruitment of Israeli-Arabs to the force (Arabs are 20% of the Israeli population but comprise less than 5% of police officers).

One of the challenges Erdan faces is convincing Arab communities that it is in their interest to lease the necessary land for the establishment of 12 new police stations as part of five-year NIS 2 billion plan to increase policing.

Nevertheless, some Israeli-Arab MKs say that there will be no change in relations without a fundamental change in police behavior. “Opening more police stations is not a treatment. Trust is built through police behavior and not on billboards,” Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman said at Knesset panel on policing in Arab communities on Tuesday, “If you’re shot at next to your house, 100 billboards will not convince you.”

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