'Police fail to improve relations with Arab sector'

Police have failed to take steps to improve relations with Arab sector, report reveals.

May 8, 2013 23:35
2 minute read.
Palestinian throwing stones at Israeli border police near Nablus, March 29, 2013.

Palestinian throwing stones at Israeli border police 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)


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Israel Police have failed to carry out recommendations meant to improve their relations with communities in the Arab sector, according to a segment of the State Comptroller’s Report issued on Wednesday.

The section on police relates how following the October 2000 riots – in which 13 Israeli Arabs were killed by Israeli security forces – police launched efforts to repair ties with the Arab community, with a focus on addressing police manpower shortages in Arab communities, a lower police presence there, and improving the service provided to the Arab public.

According to the State Comptroller’s Report, police have failed to adequately address these issues in the almost 13 years since those riots.

One plan recommended by the Orr Commission, which was appointed in 2003 to address the events three years earlier, was to open 10 new police stations, 14 police posts, and 72 community policing units in the Arab sector.

The report issued Wednesday states that “only a portion of these recommendations were carried out. The police only opened one new station out of those that they promised, [Umm el-Fahm – opened in 2005], and only started 35 civil patrols out of the 72, and not a single new police outpost.”

The report also states that while the Orr Commission called for Arab towns to have the same ratio of police patrolling as Jewish towns, no new budgetary regulations were called for by police to make this happen.

Outside of the Arab sector, the report says police are not carrying out enough “initiative- based policing” and are still lacking in the services they provide to the public.

The report states that 78 percent of the police stations in Israel have insufficient staff, and of these, 50% have 25% less than the staff they need.

In a response to the findings, police said that in 2012 they have expanded the number of police posts across the Arab sector – including one in Tira opened earlier this year – have increased the number of Arabic-speaking police and outreach efforts with the Arab sector.

Police said they now have 69 civil police outfits and will open 14 “portable police stations” that will operate across the Arab sector. They also highlighted their efforts to expand the operations of the YAMAR special investigative unit within the Arab sector, which they said has helped cut down on serious crimes.

A separate section of the State Comptroller’s Report deals with the Fire and Rescue Services, and what it called failures in preparing for fires, which it says could be disastrous.

According to the report, the Fire and Rescue Services have only mapped out and inspected about half of the businesses and buildings in the cities in which they operate, and are not able to carry out sufficient enforcement of fire code violations.

The report also highlights failures in fighting fires in multi-story buildings, saying that the average fire department crane can only reach to a height of 14 stories, one of many factors that require greater preventative methods and fire response contingency plans than the Fire and Rescue Services currently have.

The report calls on the Fire and Rescue Services to carry out a multi-year plan to map businesses and buildings more than 14 floors tall in order to better assess the level of fire danger and means of protection in these buildings. In addition, it calls for the Fire and Rescue Services to carry out better public outreach in order to teach people about fire prevention.

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