Over 1,100 Arab citizens of Israel killed since 2000 – official

© Ofer Vaknin
The mayor of an Israeli-Arab town has stated that 1,165 Arab Israeli citizens have been murdered since 2000. Crime in the Arab sector has hit an all-time high, but Israeli law enforcement has failed to address the issue, experts told the local parliament.

“It is true that police arrive late to [crime scenes]. The statistics would shock anyone,” Deputy Commissioner Jamal Hachrush told a meeting of the Knesset’s Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, which was held to discuss the level of violence in the Arab sector, according to The Jerusalem Post. 

“This is why we have drawn up a plan to reinforce the police and provide the services that are required by law,” he said. Hachrush entered the history books earlier this year when he was promoted to the rank of assistant-chief, making him the first Muslim to hold the second-highest rank.

“We are recruiting 1,350 officers, and we have started building police stations. We can’t do it alone. We need help. We are in charge of curbing crime,” added Hachrush, who has been put in charge of a branch of the special police that is currently being set up to focus on the problems facing Israel’s Arab communities.

“We want to build police stations in the [Arab] communities, but there is a minority which objects. There is a plan to recruit young Arab men and women, but there is no cooperation; people are getting cold feet,” he noted.

Sakhnin Mayor Mazen Ganaim, who told the Knesset meeting that 1,165 Arab citizens have been murdered since 2000, said that people want police to treat them “like citizens.”

“A senior police official said during a recent meeting that in a certain Arab community there are more than 20,000 weapons. We expect the police to treat us like citizens. People do not allow their children to leave the house after 4 pm. In other countries ministers would resign over these statistics,” he added, according to the press-release. 

According to Amnon Beeri-Sulitzeanu, co-executive director of the Abraham Fund, an NGO set up in 1989 designed to promote “coexistence and equality” among Israel’s Jewish and Arab-Palestinian citizens, the police are not doing a good job in the Arab sector.

Beeri-Sulitzeanu told The Jerusalem Post that one of the fund’s key initiatives, called the Police and Community Safety Partnerships, “creates a permanent mechanism for dialogue and accountability between the community leaders of each Arab locality and the adjacent police station.”

Asked whether the Israeli police have proved to be more responsive to people’s needs in the Arab sector, Beeri-Sulitzeanu told the newspaper that law enforcers may simply not be listening enough and have failed to prioritize the resources needed. Beeri-Sulitzeanu said the Abraham Fund has come up with the idea of having a third party arrange regular meetings between the police and the local community.

“There needs to be dialogue every few weeks, where each side voices demands and complaints,” he noted.