Tension between police, Lod’s Arab community magnified by murder

According to data released last week by the Central Bureau of Statistics, 69% of Arab-Israelis surveyed have a negative view of the police.

September 27, 2016 01:21
2 minute read.
Clashes in Rahat

Police detain an Arab youth during clashes in the southern town of Rahat on January 20.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Police and many in the Arab community of Lod are at odds over the handling of the murder of Dua’a Abu Sharkh, 32, who was shot at close range by masked gunmen in front of her four children on Friday.

“Police do not care about the Arab community,” said one Arab resident of Lod, who declined to state her name.

“If a Jewish mother was murdered, the whole city would be closed. Instead, the police blame it on the family. It is a shame that the police arrested her three brothers, bringing the family more pain.”

On Sunday, after protests from the Abu Sharkh family and numerous Arab residents blocked roads, the three brothers, who are suspects in the murder, were allowed to attend their sister’s funeral.

They made for an unusual site, appearing at the funeral while handcuffed to police officers.

It highlighted the tense state of police relations with the Arab community in Lod.

Nasser, a construction worker in the low-income city who declined to state his last name, said he feels that the police eye all Arabs with suspicion.

“I don’t feel like they are here to protect me, only to protect the Jewish residents,” he said.

Yitzhak, a religious Jew who works at a jewelry store, chastised what he said was a characterization of Lod as dangerous and violent by the media.

“For the most part things are OK, despite a minority of violent people; most people want to live a regular life,” he said.

“I’ve had no problems with violence here – most of it is within the Arab community, so it does not affect me.”

Despite violence in the headlines and the strained atmosphere surrounding the Lod District Court on Monday, the rest of the city maintained an air of normality.

Arab and Jewish employees of a metalworking shop refused to talk about politics. “We don’t have time for that,” they said, and returned to cutting metal sheets. Lod, which has a population of 72,000, has a Jewish majority, but also boasts a substantial Arab population, numbering between 20% and 30%.

A mall adjacent to the Lod District Court was flooded with Jewish and Arab women shoppers.

Shaymaa, a sister of the slain mother, told Walla that police are not doing enough to solve the deaths of women. “100 women were murdered in family ‘honor killings’ in Lod, and to this day [the police] have not found [the] murderers,” she said. “The police need to find the killer [still] on the loose instead of arresting my brothers; instead of grieving and weeping for their sister who was killed, they were taken into custody in handcuffs.”

According to data released last week by the Central Bureau of Statistics, 69% of Arab-Israelis surveyed have a negative view of the police. In the most recent police statistics from 2015, 59% of murders occurred in Arab communities, despite the fact that the Arab minority makes up only 21% of the country’s population.

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