Seize the weapons

”Every night there are shootings here… People are getting killed. This is our day-to-day lives,” Prof. Riyad Aghbaria told KAN’s Eran Singer, in his mini-series al-Arabi al-Jadid

July 30, 2019 22:01
3 minute read.
Seize the weapons

Dikla Hisdai, the widow of Ofir Hisdai, her husband was shot down in an argument over parking space. The funeral was on Monday in Ramle. . (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/ MAARIV)

On Sunday, three Arab citizens of Israel were murdered. Khaled Hakroush, 20, was murdered in Kiryat Shmona; Zinab Mahameed, 83, was murdered in Umm al-Fahm; and Atef Abu Adra, 27, was murdered in Rahat. All were killed within 24 hours.
And on Monday, a man and a woman were injured after being shot in Lod.
Some residents of the Arab villages in the Galilee, the Negev and the “Little Triangle” (the geographic area between Kafr Kassem in the south and Baka al-Gharbiya in the north), as well as residents of mixed cities such as Lod and Ramle, describe their life there as terrifying and lawless.
Residents fear that a simple walk down the street could end at their own funeral.
”Every night there are shootings here… People are getting killed. This is our day-to-day lives,” Prof. Riyad Aghbaria told KAN’s Eran Singer, in his mini-series al-Arabi al-Jadid (the New Arab).
“People get shot. There are weapons everywhere. Youth, instead of focusing on learning mathematics, focus on learning how to use a gun,” he said.
A video released earlier this year shows residents using fireworks as a weapon in the Lower Galilee town of Kafr Manda. People in the town of 20,000 say their main square has became a war front – a venue for battles between clans.
“We see a lot of violence here,” one resident told Singer in the series. “People shoot fireworks at each other because it is an open space,” he said.
An Abraham Initiatives report published last week found that 61% of murder and manslaughter victims in Israel last year were Arab citizens – three times higher than their representation in the general population.
According to the report, 26.6% of Arab citizens said that they or their relatives were victims of violent crimes during the past year. This includes beatings, stabbings or shootings. The report found that over a third of Arab citizens (35.8%) have a sense of personal insecurity in the community where they live due to violence. This is almost three times the 12.8% figure among Jewish citizens.
Where are the police?
Yes, the police have started making real changes in recent years: new stations were opened in Arab communities. And a special high-ranking officer – Dep.-Ch. Jamal Hakrush – was appointed to try making the police more accessible for the Arab citizen.
The police even launched a special program intended to teach officers Arabic so they can communicate better with citizens.
However, murders such as those occurring this week show how limited police access is to Israel’s Arab communities. Another example of the police’s powerlessness when dealing with Arab citizens is the kidnapping of seven-year-old Karim Jomhour last July.
The boy was eventually found in Ramallah, due to help provided to the police by the Jaroushi crime family.
During the search, citizens expressed both their distrust of the police, and their willingness to find the boy.
“The violence in Arab society has crossed all lines, and the police are taking their time to find Karim,” MK Ayman Odeh said at the time. “We all know that if it was a child from Kfar Saba and not from Kalansuwa, the entire police and the entire country would be on their feet. We are not ‘the backyard’ – we demand security,” he said.
And Odeh is right.
Yes, there are problems dealing with Arab society. In some cases, there are difficulties getting residents of communities to cooperate, and there is always the conflict with the Palestinians in the background, which leads to distrust.
But within Israel, Arabs are equal citizens, and they deserve equal treatment and equal protection. It is the police’s duty to crack down on crime in Arab communities and launch a wide-scale operation to confiscate illegal weapons. And it is the government’s job to make this happen.
Unfortunately, the only chance that the government will finally wake up is when this violence spills over into other areas of Israel and specifically Jewish communities.
Let’s not wait until then. Let’s stop it now.

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