Tackling Rising Crime in Arab Towns

18 May 2023
Police Accountability

Last Sunday night Dima Bushak, a 19 year old woman, was shot dead l in the Bedouin village of Sallama in the Galilee. The day before, two men were shot dead in Arab towns in Israel. So far this year, 75 Arab citizens of Israel have been murdered. Since Itamar Ben-Gvir took charge of Israel Police as Minister of National Security, the murder rate in Arab communities in Israel has more than doubled compared to murders over the same period in 2022. In all of 2022, 116 Israeli Arabs were murdered.

Amal Oraby, NIF Arabic Media Coordinator said, “With each additional murder, fear grows in the hearts of citizens that the next victim will be a family member, a friend, a neighbor, or themselves. Aside from the fear there is also growing anger and frustration in the face of the incompetence of the police and enforcement efforts against organized crime.”

He added, “Everyone realizes that the police are trying to hide its gross failure to protect citizens by reinventing the old racist canard that Arab culture is violent. At the same time, the government is making outspoken statements about the return of governance and increasing sovereignty while Arab citizens are caught in a trap.”

So what can be done?

“Past experience,” Oraby said, “teaches that only with a clear strategy and a well-organized interministerial plan to deal with the economic and social factors of the phenomenon, is it possible to stop the daily increase in murders. On the other hand, victim blaming and populist statements only play into the hands of the criminal organizations, who have established autonomous zones in the country’s backyard — the Arab towns.”

“This is part of what it means to be a democracy,” he said. “Democracy is first and foremost about protecting the rights of those who do not agree with the majority group, who do not have the power, and for whom it is more difficult for them to make their voices heard. The protest against the judicial overhaul and struggle to protect democracy is mainly identified with Jewish Israelis.”

“In an effort to gnaw at the foundations of democracy, the government first tramples on the rights of Arab citizens, and on the basis of the right to life. In my opinion we need to shout out loud and embed it deep into the heart of the protest: do we want a better democracy? There can’t be democracy for Jews only.”

Among other groups, NIF supports Women Against Violence — a feminist association for the struggle against violence against Arab women in Israel, and the National Committee for Arab Heads of Local Authorities, which works to allocate equitable state budgets for the Arab sector and is initiating programs to tackle crime and violence.