Opposition MKs urge Netanyahu to convene cabinet on crime

Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman likens Israel to Sodom.

yitzhak aharonovitch 248 88 (photo credit: Knesset Web site)
yitzhak aharonovitch 248 88
(photo credit: Knesset Web site)
In the wake of a spate in violent crime across the country, with 13 murders in a month - eight in the past two weeks - the Knesset's Internal Affairs Committee held a special emergency session on Wednesday. Appearing before the committee, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said, "The biggest threat to Israeli society is internal: crime, corruption and violence." He cited figures that showed that some NIS 13 billion was spent every year on damage caused by crime, adding, "We will do everything we can, but we need to get financial assistance." The minister also noted that the sole responsibility for fighting violence and crime lay not only with the Public Security Ministry, but also with other bodies such as the Border Police, which he said was "working in major cities against crime," and other special units. City mayors, he said, "are sufficiently responsible to help us," as well as surveillance cameras, and local assistance given to police. During the Knesset recess session, Aharonovitch questioned the amount of time it takes for a criminal to be brought to trial and sentenced after an indictment is served, and the length of prison terms handed down. Also addressing the committee, Israel Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. David Cohen reiterated previous comments, saying, "It won't console anyone, but according to data on murder in the State of Israel, compared to other countries around the world, we're in a stable state." Cohen also called for police officers to refrain from violent behavior. The police chief went on to detail a number of the horrific murders that have taken place in recent weeks. "There was one very difficult situation, after thirty years of service I can't remember such a murder as that on Rehov Nahmani in Tel Aviv," he said, speaking of the shooting attack at a gay youth center which left two dead. "There was another event which was very severe two weeks ago," he went on. "A child was murdered in Ramle - it was part of the battle between crime organizations." He noted that police had arrested two suspects in the case, in which 17-year-old Yiftah Mor-Yosef was apparently the victim of a botched assassination attempt. Cohen also spoke of the "difficult and grave" discovery of bodies found in Ramat Gan and Nahal Alexander in recent weeks. Justice Minister Ya'acov Ne'eman also appeared before the committee, presenting data which showed that more than eighty percent of criminals receive sentences four times more lenient than what the law specifies. "Our problem is enforcing the law of the state of Israel," Ne'eman told the committee. "We have a tendency to blame the police, to blame judges, to blame prosecutors, but not to blame ourselves."