Overall violent offenses in Israel dropped by 22 percent between 2006 and 2010,
according to police statistics revealed on Tuesday, but the murder rate rose by
10% over the past year.
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The figures were unveiled at an annual police
conference held in Ganei Tikva. The event represented the last time outgoing
Israel Police Insp.-Gen. David Cohen was presenting annual crime stats,
and he used his speech to defend his term as police chief, citing polls by the
University of Haifa and the Public Security Ministry to back his claim that “the
public’s confidence in the police has risen by 3% to 5%.”
combative appearance also included direct criticism of state prosecutors and the
Attorney-General’s Office over what he described as “too long a period” between
the police investigation of ex-president Moshe Katsav on suspicion of rape, and
He described the lengthy period as “harmful” to the legal
process and to deterrence.
According to police figures, 139 homicides
occurred in 2010, compared to 126 in 2009. At the same time, since 2006, an
overall decrease of 7% was recorded for murders, according to the police
Since 2009, overall recorded violent offenses dropped by 6%,
from 30,447 cases in 2009 to 28,441 cases in 2010.
unprecedented number of knife-possession cases – 12,223 – were opened in 2010,
compared to 11,302 in 2009, a rise of 8%.
“Compared to other societies,
Israeli society is not violent. We have violence, but we are not a violent
society,” Cohen said, comparing the figures to those of other OECD
“Compared to OECD countries, the crime rate in Israel is a little
over the median rate,” he said.
He added, however, that the phenomenon of
threatening public officials was on the rise.
“Today in Israel, there are
over 100 people being threatened, most of them police officers, judges, lawyers
and public officials. Threatening public officials is equivalent to threatening
the rule of law,” Cohen said.
“One of the things that most disturbs me is
the possibility of an ideologically motivated murder. Our policy is clear on
this. Anyone who threatens a public official is arrested, investigated and
tried,” Cohen declared, referring to the recent arrest of a man who released
YouTube films calling for the murder of public officials.
there was another attempt to threaten a public official, Nissim Marom, the
Central District prosecutor. Here, too, I suggest no one test our ability. We
will reach anyone who threatens public officials,” he asserted.
7,760 knife-possession cases were investigated. The number of cases rose by 255%
between 2006 and 2010.
Police added that 85% of knife-possession cases
involved individuals who had criminal records.
Police said they initiated
3,252 illegal arms investigations in 2010, compared to 2,888 in 2009. Last year,
569 suspects were arrested and kept in custody until end of legal proceedings in
arms-possession cases, compared to 544 in 2009.
Car thefts, meanwhile,
dropped 41 % between 2006 and 2010, police said. In 2010, car thefts went down
by 8% compared to 2009, from 22,113 to 20,254.
Israel ranked a bit above
average for car thefts among OECD countries.
Break-ins at homes were also
down. In 2009, 29,400 home robberies were reported, compared to 27,171 in
Property offenses decreased by 12% between 2009 and 2010, from
155,681 to 136,389.
“Is this not a cause for pride for the officers of
the Israel Police?” Cohen said during the conference.
In 2010, police
opened 5,846 drugoffense cases, a rise of 14% compared to 2009, which saw 5,127
drug cases. The statistics represent the highest figure ever for narcotics
cases, police added.
Specialized units tasked with intercepting drug
smugglers were credited with the rise in narcotics seizures, including the
Lebanon Border Unit, the Magen unit in South, the Jordan Border Unit and the 747
Ben-Gurion Airport unit.
In 2010, 4,899 kilograms of marijuana were
seized and 1,218 kg. of hashish were intercepted by police, compared with 648
kg. and 2,377 kg., respectively, in 2009. In addition, 471 kg. of heroin and 71
kg. of cocaine were confiscated, compared with 392 kg. and 64 kg. in
Police also noted a drastic drop in the number of Ecstasy pills
seized, going from 6,823 in 2009 to a mere 1,448 in 2010.
this past year saw the lowest rate of reported crime, with 50 complaints for
every 1,000 citizens.
Last year also witnessed the largest number of
indictments ever against organized crime suspects – 89 – compared to 40 the
previous year, and 31 in 2008.
Two aims guided the war against organized
crime, police said: to harm the leadership of organizations, while also
attacking their economic assets.
“Organized crime is a cancer in the
heart of society that has gained in strength,” Cohen said. “It threatens the
rule of law, and therefore all of our resources have been directed at tackling
Eighteen crime organizations have been mapped out in recent years
and monitored closely, Cohen said, but noted that “crime organizations won’t
disappear with the wave of a magic wand. Vacuums are filled.”
remained concerned, meanwhile, about corruption of public figures.
authorities and tenders were the largest focal points of corruption, Cohen said.
One hundred-eighty bribery investigations were opened this year, and 36
complaints were lodged against mayors and heads of local authorities – 32 of
which resulted in investigations.
There were also 69 investigations
against public officials by the National Economic Crimes Unit in
Intelligence played a larger role than ever before in
investigations and indictments, police noted. According to Cohen, over 2,300
electronic eavesdropping operations were launched in 2010.
issue of inadequate police numbers, the annual report said there were 3.17
police officers for every 1,000 civilians – one of the lowest rates among OECD
countries. At least 900 new officers need to be recruited in order to reach the
OECD’s median officer- to-civilian ratio.
Increased police ranks could
lower crime rates by 10%, which would in turn save the country up to NIS 3.4
billion a year, police claimed. The most costly crimes were fraud, violence and
Police also expressed frustration with judges for
handing down lenient sentences, and took the unusual step of releasing figures
on the issue.
The vast majority of convicted criminals in 2010 received
no more than 25% of the maximum legal penalty, according to the figures. While
assault and battery carry a 20-year maximum sentence, 78% of those convicted
received only up to 25% of that. In addition, 92% of those convicted of domestic
violence, which carries a four-year prison sentence, received a quarter of that
or less. Robbery carries a 14-20-year prison sentence, but 90% of those
convicted received up to 25% of that time.