While Arab MKs and a number of NGOs have warned against the Shin Bet joining the fight against rising crime rates in the Arab sector, most Israeli Arabs actually support the idea of the security agency joining the effort, according to a new poll published by Kan's Makan 33 Arabic-language channel.
According to the poll, about two-thirds of the respondents said they support the idea of the Shin Bet joining the fight against crime, with 52% saying they aren't concerned about the use of electronic tracking such as cell phone tracking.
63% of the respondents said that they feel that the rising crime rates are a threat to them.
Netanyahu, Ben-Gvir pushing to integrate Shin Bet into the fight against crime
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir have pushed in recent weeks for the Shin Bet to be integrated into the struggle against rising crime rates in the Arab sector.
The Shin Bet is Israel's primary security agency in collecting information and targeting terrorists in the West Bank and Gaza.
The agency itself is reportedly vehemently opposed to being integrated into the fight against crime for reasons ranging from a lack of resources to a concern that overuse of its capabilities could lead to the exposure of its agents.
Israeli Arab leader warn of infringements on civil rights
Israeli Arab leaders and civil rights NGOs have also expressed opposition to the plan, citing concerns surrounding police surveillance.
“I’m afraid that the government and the prime minister still don’t have the real political will to deal with the [criminal] organizations and secure the Palestinian citizens of Israel,” said Arab Israeli MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash-Ta’al) earlier this month.
The government is “still trying to use our fear and being victims of crime to pass very bad suggestions that are meant to threaten the basis of the community’s civil rights,” she said.
Suhad Bishara, legal director of the human rights legal aid organization Adalah, wrote that Netanyahu’s plan was “particularly alarming” given that it “further threatens the basic rights of a group that is already systematically targeted and oppressed by the police.
“Moreover, if the government promotes legislation to expand the powers of the Shin Bet for this purpose, we would oppose it on the grounds that it intended to establish an enforcement system specifically for one ethnic and national group, and thereby entrench two separate legal systems – one for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the other for Jewish-Israeli citizens – and is therefore blatantly racist,” she wrote.
The Movement for Quality Government in Israel (MQG) argued that individual rights were threatened by the broad powers of the Shin Bet, which allowed for intrusive methods to violate the right of privacy to stop terrorism, sabotage and espionage.
The NGO argued that the employment of the tools used against Israel’s enemies on Israeli citizens isn’t compatible with the basic principles of a democratic state. Mass surveillance of citizens would bring Israel into the company of the worst types of regimes.
Eva Roytburg, Michael Starr and Eliav Breuer contributed to this report.