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Shin Bet chief cautions against agency fighting Arab crime

"A country that leans toward involving the Shin Bet in every complex issue will transform into a very different country," Ronen Bar said.

Shin Bet head Ronen Bar speaks at the annual Cyber Week conference at Tel Aviv University on June 27, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.
Shin Bet head Ronen Bar speaks at the annual Cyber Week conference at Tel Aviv University on June 27, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.

Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) Director Ronen Bar does not want the anti-terror agency involved in tackling the rampant violent crime in the Arab sector.

He told members of Israel’s Cabinet about his concerns at Wednesday’s meeting of the Ministerial Subcommittee on Advancing the Fight against Crime in the Arab Sector.

“A country that leans toward involving the Shin Bet in every complex issue will transform into a very different country,” Ynet quoted Bar as saying.

At the meeting chaired by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it was decided that the Shin Bet “will assist the Israel Police in its operations against the criminal organizations in regard to the local elections, as per its responsibilities, according to law,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.

The Shin Bet has identified 15 to 20 Arab regional councils where crime families threaten candidates, voters or public officials, according to Kan News.

On Tuesday, an Israeli Arab mayoral candidate was gunned down along with three others in the Western Galilee town of Abu Snan. Ghazi Sa’ab, 53, was running for head of the local council in the Oct. 31 municipal elections.

A suspect in the quadruple homicide was apprehended at Ben-Gurion Airport on Thursday while attempting to flee the country.

In addition to the Abu Snan investigation, the Shin Bet is also involved in the probe into the killing on Monday of Abdel Rahman Kashua, the municipal director of the Israeli Arab city of Tira, located southeast of Netanya.

A total of 156 Arab Israelis have been killed since the start of the year, mostly in shootings, up from 69 during the same period last year, according to the Abraham Initiatives nonprofit organization.

Netanyahu on Tuesday vowed to “eliminate crime in the Arab sector.”

“The murder of the director general of the city of Tira crossed a red line. We cannot tolerate these murders, the criminal organizations, the protection rackets and the taking over of the municipality,” the premier said.

“We will use all means, including the ISA [Israel Security Agency] and the police, all means, in order to defeat this criminal phenomenon. We have eliminated organized crime in the Jewish sector in Israel and we will eliminate organized crime in the Arab sector in Israel.

“Every citizen of Israel must feel secure and not under the shadow of the threat of internal terrorism,” Netanyahu said.

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