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Panel to tackle crime in Arab sector meets for first time

This year, 102 people have been killed in Arab communities, up from 34 in same period in 2022.

Israeli Arabs protest in Umm al-Fahm against violence, organized crime and killings in their communities, Oct. 22, 2021. Photo by Jamal Awad/Flash90.
Israeli Arabs protest in Umm al-Fahm against violence, organized crime and killings in their communities, Oct. 22, 2021. Photo by Jamal Awad/Flash90.

Israel’s Cabinet on Sunday approved the establishment of the Ministerial Committee on the Arab Sector to be headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

And on June 14, the separate Inter-ministerial Steering Committee on Defeating Crime and Violence in the Arab Sector held its first meeting.

“Ours is a government of all Israeli citizens—Jews and Arabs alike. There has been a reduction of the gaps, which must take place in many sectors in Arab society, but our main focus is the fight against crime,” Netanyahu said.

“Last week, we held a meeting with law enforcement officials. Our goal is to increase the direct involvement of the [Israel Security Agency, or Shin Bet] against the crime families. We will do so responsibly and we will enact the necessary legal changes. Our goal is to achieve results against the wave of crime and the crime families in the coming year,” he added.

Prime Minister’s Office Director General Yossi Shelley, who chaired the meeting of the Inter-ministerial Steering Committee on Defeating Crime and Violence in the Arab Sector, said, “We are one society—Jewish and Arab—that needs to live together in this country. We will not allow the criminal organizations to harm us. We are in an emergency situation—in a period of community-wide terrorism in the Arab towns.

“I intend to work with the [local] authority heads who have been successful and achieved much and turn their path into a model. I would like to focus on identifying and defining problems, improving processes, pooling resources and achieving results as soon as possible,” he added.

“We will work towards significant change on the ground such as allocating resources to police officers specifically designated to work on the issue, technology, community security and more,” Shelley said.

Israel’s Arab sector has experienced a crime wave in recent years. Since the start of the year, 102 people have been killed in Arab communities due to criminal activities, up from 34 in the same period in 2022. A total of 29 others—Jews and non-Jews—have been killed by criminals in Israel so far this year.

Mudar Younes, chairman of the Committee of Arab Local Authorities, said, “Today’s meeting is not to be taken for granted. We thank you and are going to work together.”

Umm al-Fahm Mayor Samir Mahmid added, “I thank the director general for the three meetings that have been held with him over the last 10 days. I am certain that with the determination and responsibility you have shown for the Arab sector, we will succeed.”

Senior representatives from several government ministries and agencies participated in the meeting, including the National Security Ministry, the Justice Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the Labor Ministry and the Welfare and Social Affairs Ministry.

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