(photo credit: REUTERS)
The level of crime in the Arab sector has created an intolerable reality for
these Israeli citizens, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said
“The [Arab] sector is living in an unbearable situation of crime,
murder and robbery,” Netanyahu said.
The prime minister’s comments came
during a special Knesset committee meeting held to discuss violence in the Arab
He called for a two-pronged approach to “free the Arab public
from the terror of crime,” saying that more must be made to integrate Israeli
Arabs into the economy and the workforce, and that law enforcement efforts must
be stepped up in their communities.
“Over 40 percent of the sector says
they are worried that someone will harm them in their village or town; that’s
almost every other person,” the prime minister continued. “This is the Wild
West, the Wild East, the Wild North, Wild South. We must take
Netanyahu spoke of years past when Israeli organized crime was
in its heyday, before the police dramatically changing the equation for the
better. That same success can be achieved in fighting crime in the Arab sector,
At one point during the meeting, Siham Agbariya from Umm el-Fahm
broke into tears describing the heartbreak and terror she feels following the
murder of her husband and two of her children four months ago.
children are afraid, they saw what happened to their father and their brothers
that same night they were with me. I’m only asking one thing from you,” she said
in Hebrew, before breaking down and saying in Arabic, “We never had any enemies,
I never locked my door and I felt safe until this happened. Now neither I
nor my children feel safe. I am asking the police to find the killers. As long
as they are free I have no safety.”
Netanyahu said Agbaria’s words tore
his heart. When he left the committee room, he stopped to comfort
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said at the meeting
that tackling the disproportionate level of violence in the Arab sector is a
national priority. He also said that because not all crimes are reported, the
statistics are deceptive. “Regarding the data – double the reported number,” he
said “In the data we have, there are 141 incidents of murder in total, and 62 of
them are from the Arab sector. We know about many unreported cases,”
“Defeating and controlling the violence in the Arab
sector is something I have set as a goal,” the minister continued. “When I say
thousands of weapons are caught, it shows the huge number of weapons out
In recent years, Aharonovitch has repeatedly made such calls for
greater law enforcement in Arab communities. According to figures released by
his ministry last month, while Arabs make up around 20% of the population, they
are the suspects in 67% of homicides, 70% of attempted homicides and 52% of
arsons. They are also the victims of the overwhelming majority of homicides
committed in the country.
In January, Aharonovitch launched three new
police units to back up stations in Arab areas – a unit for the Ayarot station
patrolling Beduin areas of the Negev, a unit to supplement officers in Tira and
Taiba in the Sharon region, and a third to help officers in the Nazareth area.
Each unit has 110 officers.
Police plan to set up a further five units of
60 officers each in other Arab areas, including in the Wadi Ara region and in
Also during Monday’s Knesset meeting, Israel Police
Insp.-Gen. Yochanan Danino said that police will no longer use the phrase
“honor killings” to refer to murders carried out by spouses or relatives of Arab
women, instead referring to them as “murders within the family.”Yaakov
Lappin contributed to this report.