Not enough

Almost daily we hear reports of murders and assassinations in Arab cities, towns and villages.

The homemade Carlo-style gun discovered by IDF forces on April 2  (photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
The homemade Carlo-style gun discovered by IDF forces on April 2
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
The violence on the country’s Arab streets is still raging, and no solution is on the horizon.
Almost daily we hear reports of murders and assassinations in Arab cities, towns and villages.
This phenomenon has long gotten out of hand, and no one is stopping it.
On Saturday, Dr. Safwat Abu Ria, the mayor of the city of Sakhnin, was the target. A car outside of his house was set on fire, and gunshots were fired. Luckily, no one was injured.
Abu Ria is one of eight Arab mayors targeted in the past three months.
Also on Saturday, 27-year-old Johar Abu Jaber from Kfar Qassem was shot dead. Abu Jaber is the fourth member of his family killed since the beginning of the year, and the 91st within the Arab sector.
What are Israel Police doing to stop this deadly plague? In mid-November, it announced  - yet again - that it was launching a campaign to get the Arab public to voluntarily return illegal weapons to police stations.
The police promised the public that people who return their weapons would not suffer from criminal sanctions.
However, even as the campaign was launched, people were skeptical it would succeed. Israel Hayom reported that 12 Arab municipalities refused to cooperate with the campaign. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that it is “sad and shocking to see municipalities that are refusing to take part in an operation that intends to save lives.
“An Arab leader who does not call on the public to surrender their weapons is losing legitimacy to criticize the law enforcement organizations,” he said.
MK Aida Toma Suleiman (the Joint List), explained why some Arab leaders refuse to participate. “In the weapon collection operation in 2017, only three weapons were returned. We all know what a person who repeats the same action and expects a different outcome is called,” she said. “I support doing everything possible to remove weapons from our streets. But this voluntary operation is a joke.”
Suleiman is correct. The operation was tried before and failed, so why would it work this time?
Moreover, Arab citizens are complaining that the police are not doing enough to protect them. Some of them – people whom we would define as “ordinary citizens” – say that they carry weapons to defend themselves from the criminals. How can someone then be expected to voluntarily give away the only means he has to protect himself?
Last week, the Abraham Initiatives NGO published a severe report that found major failures in this operation. After examining 80% of the weapon collection centers, it found that most of them were not functioning properly. 16 were not operating at all, and others were located in places that would harm the anonymity of the person returning the weapon.
The bigger question that arises from these facts is why would the police even launch such an ill-conceived and executed campaign? Are there not alternatives that could be examined to combat illegal weapons? Is it possible that the voluntary gun surrender program was just instituted so the police could say they doing something?
Moreover, these questions should also be aimed at the government. Some Arab leaders tie the growing violence in their sector to the lack of proper banking services in Arab towns and villages.
They claim that the lack of banks, combined with the banks’ refusal to give Arabs mortgages, creates a vacuum that is filled by the black market and organized crime.
According to these Arab leaders, the main function of the weapons is to protect the black market. If there were banks and legal loans, there would not be as much a need for illegal weapons.
This should be considered by the government. Keeping the Arab street safe should be a common goal for us all, Jews and Arabs alike.
Unfortunately, in days when politicians seem to only care about keeping their seats – looking out for the personal safety of a minority is the last item on their agenda. This needs to change now.