Bedouin mayor of Rahat: Arab sector should give Ben-Gvir a chance

Itamar Ben-Gvir should be given a chance to combat the violence and crime plaguing the Arab sector and the Negev, Rahat Mayor Fayez Abu Sahiban said.

 MK Itamar Ben Gvir, head of the Otzma Yehudit political party surrouned visits in Beit Orot, in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of At-Tur, October 13, 2022. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
MK Itamar Ben Gvir, head of the Otzma Yehudit political party surrouned visits in Beit Orot, in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of At-Tur, October 13, 2022.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Bedouin mayor of Rahat Fayez Abu Sahiban called on Otzma Yehudit chief MK Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is poised to be handed the reins to the Public Security Ministry, to tackle soaring crime and violence in Israel's Arab sector, especially in the Negev, in a Channel 13 interview on Sunday afternoon.

"Maybe [Ben-Gvir] will do things other people couldn't," Abu Sahiban said, stating he refuses to preemptively judge the radical right-wing lawmaker before he takes up his first post in government and likely the cabinet. "Everybody speaks about Ben-Gvir because of his threats before the election but let's judge him after he is sworn in as a minister."

Rahat mayor warns Ben-Gvir against 'harsher enforcement'

Rahat's mayor further said that, should Ben-Gvir become public security minister, he would have to do more than just enforce the rule of law in a harsher manner.

He warned that, if Ben-Gvir were to "attempt harsher enforcement," violence and crime rates across the Arab sector and the Negev could double. "If he attempts harsher enforcement, violence and crime will rise by 100%...mark my words. I am not defending the criminals, it is just what is going to happen."

 Police at the scene where an armed suspect was killed after firing at police special forces who were operating in Rahat, southern Israel, March 15, 2022 (credit: FLASH90) Police at the scene where an armed suspect was killed after firing at police special forces who were operating in Rahat, southern Israel, March 15, 2022 (credit: FLASH90)

Instead, Abu Sabihan said Ben-Gvir must allocate funding for Arab and Bedouin municipalities and local councils to combat crime and increase welfare and quality of life. "He must increase our budgets," Abu Sahiban told Channel 13.

Despite Abu Sahiban's plea, Israel's outgoing government attempted to tackle crime in the Arab sector, agreeing a landmark NIS 30 billion five-year plan for the Arab sector, orchestrated by Ra'am head MK Mansour Abbas, Prime Minister Yair Lapid and former prime minister Naftali Bennett.

"We voted for the outgoing government, we're in a new wedding now...Israel chose Ben-Gvir and they chose a right-wing government," Abu Sahiban conceded. "All I am asking for is what we deserve as Israeli citizens."

"All I am asking for is what we deserve as Israeli citizens"

Rahat Mayor

Abu Sahiban is "prepared to come and listen to [Ben-Gvir] in Jerusalem and also to invite him to Rahat," he added in the interview. "[When] he is minister, he will be like everybody else," the mayor said.

Violence, crime run rampant across Arab sector

Last week, a 17-year-old Bedouin resident of the Negev was sentenced to five years in prison on Wednesday by the Beersheba Juvenile Court for raping a 10-year-old Israeli child. Earlier in November, A brawl erupted between two families in the Bedouin city of Rahat, southern Israel, Israel Police said on Friday.

A large number of police officers arrived at the scene of the brawl in an effort to end the violent altercation, during which shots were fired and Molotov cocktails were thrown.