Arrest [illustrative] 370.
(photo credit: Nir Elias/Reuters)
A couple of weeks ago, two senior members of the Domrani organized crime family
were assassinated. Although the Israel Police and the Public Security Ministry
published data showing that there has been a decline in crime rates, this is not
All this data tells us is that the rate of reported
criminal acts has fallen and that their effect on the economy has lessened. They
don’t differentiate between break-ins to people’s homes or cars and the blood
feud between leaders of the underworld. These incidents don’t just take the
lives of dozens of organized crime members, but also of innocent people who
happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Neither the state
nor the police force working in the state’s name have succeeded in significantly
reducing crime. Organized crime families carry out large-scale criminal activity
throughout the country – from protection rackets at markets and stores, to drug
trafficking, prostitution, illegal construction carried out by contractors who
owe money to criminals and gray market loan sharks.
The Israel Police has
never successfully penetrated organized crime families and as a result, these
families have become involved in all aspects of life, especially in local
authorities where it is relatively easy to reach people with power and influence
over real estate and commercial establishments.
Two bodies are
responsible for dealing with organized crime: the Israel Police and the
The government has been neglecting the police for years.
While the military has an outrageously large budget, the police barely receives
enough to cover its salaries. As a result, the Israel Police has continuously
lacked sufficient funds for training, police cars (that don’t spend most of
their time at the garage), uniforms and even basic supplies.
budget has grown over the years and its staff has doubled in number. And yet,
the numerous officers currently employed are not even close to being able to
provide a real solution to crime. There are not enough policemen, not enough
police cars, which means that at the end of the day there is little deterrence.
The legal system does not provide protection for policemen even when they are
carrying out their jobs in the best way possible. Policemen who’ve harmed
criminals during chases or investigations later suffer from onerous
investigations. The result is that in the field, many times policemen prefer to
turn a blind eye rather than getting involved.
They know that in the end
their commanders and the court system will not support them.
also a number of unsettled internal issues within the force. In addition to the
terrible conditions, low wages, numerous shifts and lack of materials, there’s a
problem in the way the police has dealt with organized crime throughout the
Only recently have the government and the police begun treating
the mob assassinations as terrorist attacks on civilians. The significance is
that the police have begun treating these attacks in the same way the Shin Bet
deals with nationalist terrorism. The police has constructed intelligence
systems – HUMINT (human intelligence) and SIGINT (signals intelligence) – and
legal infrastructure that allows it to carry out investigations like the Shin
As intelligence that is gathered needs to be admissible in
court, the police fails to gather enough information to back up its
This lack of deterrence and the fear of coming up against
organized crime families make it difficult for undercover agents to penetrate
major criminal organizations.
To overcome these issues, a dedicated
police system needs to be established to deal with countrywide criminal terror.
This system needs proper legal support and access to relevant intelligence and
technological capabilities. The only way such a system would succeed is if
undercover agents could successfully penetrate the crime organizations at a low
level and make their way up to senior positions.
The only other
alternative would be placing technological devices in proper
To a certain extent, problems within the police are due to
improper prioritization and poor management, but for the most part, the
government and the Public Security Ministry are to blame.
shekels are channeled to the military instead of to the police; the courts do
not protect policemen; and local authorities fear standing up to organized crime
leaders. All of this makes it extremely difficult for the Israel Police to
fulfill its obligations and at the same time allows organized crime to flourish
and prosper.The writer is a former brigadier-general who served as a
division head in the Shin Bet (Israel Security agency).