”Thirteen murders took place at one location in Beit Jann, and the police have no method to prevent it or track down the perpetrators,” Beit Jann Local Council head Bian Kabalan told Wednesday`s meeting of the Internal Affairs and Environment Committee on the level of violence in the Arab sector, which has hit an all-time high.
During the meeting, which was held at the request of MKs Osama Sa`adi (Joint List), Mickey Levy (Yesh Atid) and Esawi Frej (Meretz), Sakhnin Mayor Mazen Ghanaim noted that 1,165 Arab citizens have been murdered since 2000. ”Some people claim that heads of local authorities do not cooperate, but this is not true,” he argued. ”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.”
Kamal Rian of the Federation of Local Authorities, whose son was murdered in 2009, said,
”Nearly 300 murderers walk among us, and there are over 100,000 weapons. Thirteen year olds were murdered. I thought the state would launch an `intifada` over the murder of children. I thought the country would shake when a year and a half ago a police officer told Channel 1 that in every police station there is an office with ties to a crime family. If this is true, we are a banana republic.”
MK Ayoob Kara (Likud), Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Regional Cooperation, said that ”unfortunately, there is no trust in the system… Dozens have been murdered in the Galilee over the past few years. What is the reason that not even one murder is being solved?”
MK Sa`adi read from a long list of names of Arab murders victims, the latest being a 16 year old boy. ”Crime and violence have taken over,” he said. ”We crave a solution that will follow the advice of Arab experts.”
MK Hanin Zoabi (Joint List) told the committee that some witnesses who had turned to the police were turned away. ”Police officers are friendly with crime families. It is the police who are breaking the law,” she said.
Internal Affairs Committee Chairman MK David Amsalem (Likud) asked Zoabi to transfer any information that corroborates her claims, while MK Yousef Jabareen (Joint List) said, ”The police have failed. I ask that the committee chairman consider establishing a state commission of inquiry that, together with Israel Police and the education and welfare systems, will once and for all produce something we can work with. There is no law and no judge. In Umm al-Fahm there is shooting every night. We have data showing that most children aged 6-7 have seen a weapon.”
MK Levy said the figures are ”shocking,” adding that ”not enough has been done from a budgetary aspect,” and MK Frej called the violence ”an existential threat.”
”I only ask that the police collect the illegal weapons,” he said. ”The accessibility to weapons is intolerable.”
Deputy Police Commissioner Major General Jamal Hakrush said ”It is true that police arrive late to [the crime scenes]. The statistics would shock anyone. This is why we have drawn up a plan to reinforce the police and provide the services that are required by law. 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. 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.”
Amsalem announced that he plans to set up a work committee consisting of himself, another MK, two mayors and one police representative. ”I want to know what the plan is within 3-4 weeks, and then receive a timetable for its implementation,” said the committee chairman.
”I know that the Minister of Public Security (Gilad Erdan) has defined three goals, one of which is to eradicate crime in the Arab sector,” Amsalem said. ”He is fighting from inside the government to get the budgets. Recruiting 1,300 Arab police officers is a very significant measure. We are all in consensus on this. The state`s most basic duty is to provide security to every citizen. When there is no security for the citizens, there is no country, no society, nothing. There is no distinction here between Jews and Arabs.”