Israeli Police Announce Plan on Arab Organized Crime

Israeli Police Announce Plan on Arab Organized Crime

August 20, 2019

News imageWhile rising rates of violent crime are a topmost concern for Arab citizens, effective law enforcement and policing in Arab communities continues to be a challenge. This past July, Minister of Public Security, Gilad Erdan, announced a government plan to target organized crime in Arab society. Both Israeli police and civil society organizations identify organized crime as a source of much of the violence in Arab society.

As part of the announcement, the Investigations and Intelligence Division of the Israeli Police released a report in July stating that seven major Arab entities, five organizations and two gangs, have grown stronger due to the vacuum created by the successful crackdown on previously powerful organized crime bodies in Jewish communities. The report details the organizations’ and gangs’ areas of activity and their interactions with other criminal entities. "It is important that the Israeli police allocate maximum resources and capabilities to this field,” Erdan said.

The announcement is a milestone in that it is the first such comprehensive report by the Israel Police about organized crime in Arab society and that commits to allocating resources to combatting it. It follows a series of steps taken by Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan to enhance community policing and security in Arab society, including the opening of new police stations in Arab municipalities, efforts to recruit Arab men and women to the Israel Police, increased outreach on social media to Arab citizens, and weapons collections campaigns. However, the success of these efforts has been partial. In a 2018 letter to Minister Erdan, local and national Arab political leaders cited continuing high rates of crime, claiming efforts to improve policing have been inadequante, and in particular, ineffective in targeting organized crime in Arab society

During last year’s nomination process for Police Commissioner, Erdan asked all nominees to present a plan to combat Arab organized crime, and said that the next commissioner’s main task would be to address violence and crime in Arab society.

Whether the effort will be able to effectively overcome law-enforcement challenges in Arab society is yet to be seen. There is a history of tensions and mistrust on this issue.  Police have cited a perceived lack of cooperation in Arab society to combat violence, while Arab leaders have contended that there have been decades of police neglect and inadequate services in their communities, including accommodation of temporary agreements by criminal organizations, as well as excessive policing of Arab society as an enemy population to be contained. Community and civil society leaders in Arab society have long called for increased proactive law enforcement in Arab communities, contending that better police services and an improved community policing approach is needed to secure Arab towns and cities. 

The Abraham Initiatives, which recently released its 2018 Personal Security Index for Arab towns and has been a key advocate for improving policing in Arab society, said that it “welcomes a plan to eradicate crime organizations in Arab society, which are the source of much of the violence and crime in this society,” and offered recommendations for effective solutions to combatting crime in Arab communities.

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