IDF, Shin Bet join forces to fight high Israeli-Arab crime rate

An inter-ministerial task force has been established to target the rise in illegal weapons in the Israeli-Arab sector.

 Naftali Bennett speaking at the cabinet meeting on combatting Arab sector violence and crime, October 3, 2021. (photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
Naftali Bennett speaking at the cabinet meeting on combatting Arab sector violence and crime, October 3, 2021.
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)

The IDF and Shin Bet (Israel Security Service) will be central to the government’s plan to fight crime in the Israeli Arab sector, the Ministerial Task Force to Fight Crime and Violence in Arab Society determined at its inaugural meeting on Sunday.

At the end of the meeting, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett approved a plan compiled by task force leader Deputy Public Security Minister Yoav Segalovich, a 30-year veteran of the police.

The task force agreed that the IDF and Shin Bet should focus on illegal weapons. The Justice Ministry plans to advance bills to give the authorities additional tools, such as minimum sentences for possessing and selling weapons illegally.

The task force decided that no legal change was needed to allow the Shin Bet to work on the issue.“Violence in Arab society has reached a redline,” Bennett warned. “The problem was repressed and neglected until it reached monstrous dimensions, as we saw in the last year.”

 View of the Israeli-Arab town of Kfar Kassem, near Tel Aviv. July 02, 2013.  (credit: MOSHE SHAI/FLASH90) View of the Israeli-Arab town of Kfar Kassem, near Tel Aviv. July 02, 2013. (credit: MOSHE SHAI/FLASH90)

The prime minister’s remarks came a day after the 100th or 95th murder – NGO reports differ – of Israeli Arabs by members of their communities since the beginning of 2021. The victim was Maharan Mougrabi, 40, who was run over and then shot on Friday and succumbed to his wounds on Saturday.

Bennett also cited Thursday’s attack on police officers by security workers in Kafr Kassem, which was caught on video and widely disseminated. Two officers were injured while trying to enter City Hall. They were assaulted by members of Al Hirasa, an internal security force in the city, which is affiliated with the Islamic Movement.

In light of the incident, Bennett said that leaders in the Arab public should stand with the police and the state and called on Israeli Arabs to “understand that security forces are not the enemy; they are the solution. The state is enlisting now to defend Arab citizens from a plague of crime, from illegal weapons, from murders and protection payments. It will take time, effort and resources… Don’t blame the state, go hand in hand with it. I expect full cooperation from Arab society in the war against crime and violence in Arab society.”

Addressing these problems “won’t just take a day or two,” Bennett warned, “but we’re on it.”

Other participants in Sunday’s meeting were Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev, Welfare Minister Meir Cohen, Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata, Cabinet Secretary Shalom Shlomo, Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Yair Pines, Police Chief Kobi Shabtai, the designated next head of the Shin Bet, identified only as “R,” and others.