How to stop the wave of Israeli-Arab murders? – analysis


As the wave of killings in the Arab-Israeli sector continues unabated, pressure increases on the police, prosecution and possibly even the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) to tackle the problem more aggressively. .

Two murders in recent days have brought the death toll in Arab communities for the year to 92, with more than three months remaining in 2021.

In addition to the almost constant rate of reporting on newly murdered Arabs of all ages, recent months have also seen Arab criminal groups assassinate a senior adviser to Justice Minister Gideon Saar and shoot the house of a senior police commander. Arab responsible for the question.

While some cases are resolved, many never do, and even those that are resolved seem to take longer to resolve than cases in which Jewish Israelis are killed.

What are the roots of the problem, what can the police and prosecution do to curb the wave of killings, and is the situation so serious that the Shin Bet should get involved?

Israeli police raided 63 houses operating to fight criminal organizations in the Arab sector (credit: ISRAEL POLICE)

Historically, the state and the police have ignored or have had a policy of non-intervention regarding intra-Arab crime that has not impacted Jewish Israelis.

It may be interesting to debate whether this is due to the fact that Israeli governments do not care as much about the Arab sector, because they were afraid of the Arabs returning if the police were seen as “too active” in their neighborhoods, or if the story is about a lack of funding, resources and local police stations.

Still, the bottom line is that the matter hasn’t received much attention except when a particularly gruesome series of crimes hit the headlines.

There is some hope that the current government, which is the first to have an Arab party, Ra’am, can take the issue more seriously.

In addition, other terrible headlines in recent years have finally led the police to invest more resources in dealing with the problem, in particular by hiring more local Arab police officers and establishing more physical police presences in Arab areas.

However, the negative trend of an increase in killings and Arab criminal organizations feeling free to attack symbols of the rule of law seems to have outstripped these positive trends.

Former head of the police operations command Yaakov “Kobi” Cohen explained that the current weakness of the police in dealing with the issue is multifaceted.

First, he noted that the problem is a long-term problem requiring long-term solutions addressing both the phenomenon and the underlying socio-economic causes.

Then, he declared: “The police have the capacities to deal with the phenomenon. The question is whether they are organized in a sufficiently operational manner? The police have the tools and the manpower. But he [a solution] will not be [as simple as] pushing a button. In the long run, the police can make plans, and the prosecution can support that with their work in the courts, and they can reduce the phenomenon. “

Cohen has been pressed that even with numerous pledges and public statements over the past few months to bring the wave of killings under control, to date there appears to be no progress.

He stressed that the announcements of hiring 1,000 new police officers “will not take place tomorrow. It will be a process that will take one to two years. No one should build their expectations on a solution tomorrow.

However, he also said that the fundamental problem within the police force was the spiraling morale within the organization.

“When you have a state commission of inquiry hovering over your head, it’s extremely damaging … and the police have been much less effective. It’s in a very difficult place, ”referring to the Mount Meron disaster probe.

Specifically, he said most of the top police commands were involved in one way or another in the investigation, which made it “very difficult for the police to address a conflict in the Arab sector.” But if the police are strengthened and supported by the political level and the government, things could improve.

Until then, he said, “the police are in a deep hole and will not be strong enough” to turn the tide despite their ability to do so.

The police spokesperson responded by listing many recent police achievements in terms of increasing arrests and confiscation of weapons in the Arab sector, as well as opening more police stations there. low.

The spokesperson blamed the Arab sector itself, saying that victims of crime and their families were less cooperative with the police than the general public.

A police statement did not clarify whether they thought it was based on an ideological objection to working with Jewish state law enforcement, or whether it was part of a harsh calculation by some victims. that they could face more violence if they cooperated with the police.

Meanwhile, Saar introduced several new bills in an attempt to strengthen law enforcement, prosecution and generally tackle violence in the Arab sector.

But with the Knesset on vacation and the sluggishness of legislation, none of these measures are expected to be a game-changer for some time.

IF THE police cannot turn the tide on their own for whatever reason, what about the Shin Bet?

The agency has drone and human espionage capabilities, phone and email hacking capabilities, tracking capabilities, and interrogation and detention tools that the police do not have, that it uses to solve difficult cases of terrorism.

Publicly, the Shin Bet’s only comments are that this is a complex issue to be resolved by the political level of the country.

However, several former officials have expressed concern over the counterterrorism agency’s involvement in even serious national criminal issues that seem out of hand.

Concerns about the Shin Bet’s involvement in anything other than the fight against terrorism are already high after the agency was used for more than a year to track citizens infected with the coronavirus.

Those in favor of the Shin Bet intervention argue that the agency may have more bases to intervene after the May 10-21 war with Gaza when various Arab criminal organizations turned into nationalist actions supporting Hamas.

In addition to the genuine concerns of the Arab sector about state mistreatment, these groups have helped to cause widespread chaos, which some see as a more strategic threat than mere criminal activity.

Former Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has said he opposes the Shin Bet’s involvement in domestic issues because it would be a slippery slope with unforeseeable consequences.

Instead, he recommends a mix of dramatically improved education and increased police presence and enforcement for the Arab sector as part of a mix of short and long term strategies.

Cohen said, “It would be rushing too soon. Watch how the Shin Bet treated fleeing terrorists [from Gilboa Prison]. They are for a surprise solution to an extreme situation. Their tools are intended to fight terrorism. I don’t think we’re in a place where we need to use the Shin Bet yet.

“The police have the capacity to handle things. Someone [suggesting the Shin Bet] is looking for a quick and easy solution for this period, but [in the] in the long term, this requires careful and well-planned work, operations and monitoring, as well as greater presence and both covert and public action. I don’t think we have reached the emergency point where we need the Shin Bet, ”he said.

In the meantime, as long as the wave of killings continues, all of these ideas are well in play.


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