Crime spiked in Jewish-Arab cities in wake of Guardian of the Walls - report

A year and a half after Operation Guardian of the Walls, police and the Shin Bet are still making arrests related to crimes committed in that period. 

 Israeli police seen on the streets of the central Israeli city of Lod, where synaogues and cars were torched as well as shops damaged, by Arab residents rioted in the city. May 12, 2021.  (photo credit: YOSSI ALONI/FLASH90)
Israeli police seen on the streets of the central Israeli city of Lod, where synaogues and cars were torched as well as shops damaged, by Arab residents rioted in the city. May 12, 2021.
(photo credit: YOSSI ALONI/FLASH90)

Criminal cases spiked above the national average in mixed Jewish-Arab cities during 2021’s Operation Guardian of the Walls, according to a Monday background report prepared by the Knesset’s Information and Research Center for the State Audit Committee.

In the second quarter of 2021, criminal cases per thousand rose in Lod from 11 to 20. In Acre, they rose from 13 to 17, and in Ramle from 10 to 14.

But the report noted that the quarterly cases per thousand dropped to near operation levels soon after the Gaza conflict subsided.

While the national yearly average of criminal cases in Israeli cities was 31 cases per thousand from 2017 to 2022, mixed cities had 41 yearly cases on average. Tel-Aviv-Yafo had 62 cases per year, Acre 58, Nof HaGalil 51, Lod 45, Ramle 45 and Haifa 43.

In contrast, non-mixed Jewish and Arab population centers had similar yearly averages of criminal cases per thousand. Jewish municipalities had a yearly average of 29 cases per thousand from 2017 to 2022, and Arab ones had 28 cases.

 A garbage can can be seen set ablaze in central Jerusalem amid ultra-Orthodox riots, December 15, 2022. (credit: ISRAEL POLICE SPOKESMAN) A garbage can can be seen set ablaze in central Jerusalem amid ultra-Orthodox riots, December 15, 2022. (credit: ISRAEL POLICE SPOKESMAN)

Jerusalem and Ma’alot-Tarshiha bucked the trends for mixed cities, having yearly averages of only 29 and 26 cases per thousand respectively. Ma’alot-Tarshiha didn’t see a noticeable change in cases in the second quarter of 2021, and Jerusalem’s cases per thousand rose only from around six to eight.

The report noted however that the data analyzed cases reported to police, and those not reported could not be included.

“If there is a problem of widespread underreporting, there may be a significant difference between the police data and the actual extent of crime,” read the report.

Another caveat was that the geographical distribution of the reported crime was based on where it occurred, rather than where the criminal resided.

The report also didn’t cover the intensity of the crime, and whether more offenses occurred in a single case.

A year and a half after Operation Guardian of the Walls, police and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) are still making arrests related to crimes committed in that period.

Last Wednesday, the agency announced that it had arrested an Arab resident of Acre on suspicion that he was involved in the attempted lynching of a Jewish man.

Mor Janashvili was attacked by a mob, stones were thrown at his car which was then set alight, and he was beaten with clubs, hospitalized and had a prolonged rehabilitation, the Shin Bet said.

The on-going consequences of the crime spike

“The Shin Bet takes very seriously the involvement of Israeli citizens in terrorist activity and will continue to act against those involved in the recent events at ‘Guardian of the Walls’ until the full severity of the law is meted out, despite the time that has passed,” it said.

On Tuesday, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who rose to popularity in part on his criticisms of the government’s handling of crime during the 2021 operation, presented police reforms with the dire warning that “Guardian of the Walls 2 is coming.”

He warned that riots could break out once again in mixed cities, and proposed expansion of the border police and creation of a national guard.