The Mothers for Life Movement marched yesterday (Saturday, August 15) for the fifth consecutive day in a campaign intended to raise awareness of violence in Israel’s Arab society, calling on state authorities, and in particular the police, to strengthen the enforcement of the law within the country’s Palestinian-Arab communities. The leader of the Joint List, MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash), once again joined the group as he had from the first day of the campaign. “There are no words to describe the willingness to sacrifice shown by these mothers leading the march for the legacy of their children. They are there to prevent the next generation from falling victim to this violence,” he said.
The campaign of six consecutive day of marches around the country began on Tuesday, August 11, and set out from Haifa’s Halisa neighborhood; the final march will take place today, Sunday, August 16, and will conclude at President Reuven Rivlin’s residence in Jerusalem. Yesterday afternoon, Saturday, Hadash and Communist Party of Israel activists joined the march at Latrun interchange, and later they participated in the mass protest outside the Prime Minister’s official residence on Balfour Street in Jerusalem.
During 2019, Arab-Palestinians in Israel conducted a series of protests and strikes against the failure of the far-right government and police to deal with violence in Arab communities. According to the NGO Abraham Initiatives, 51 Arab citizens of Israel have been murdered thus far this year. In 2019, a total of 89 Arab citizens, 79 men and 10 women, were killed by assailants.
Abraham Initiatives conducted a survey last April in which it interviewed 718 Arab citizens of Israel. A separate survey was conducted among 500 Jewish citizens to compare the results. More than half of Arab citizens said they felt insecure in their area of residence, compared with 35.8% in 2018, while also compared with 12.8% of Jewish citizens who said they felt insecure in their areas in which they resided. (The survey found that 6.2% of Arabs respondents said they feared for their personal safety within their own homes.) Almost two-thirds (64.5%) of Arabs respondents who experienced violence or threats of violence reported that they knew the assailant or the person threatening them.
The recent survey by Abraham Initiatives revealed that Arab citizens are overall more worried by the threat of crime and violence than of racist legislation, societal inequality and the peace process. Almost three-quarters (73.1%) of Arab citizens are concerned that a family member will be the victim of violent crime, compared with 19.3% of Jewish citizens. There is a similar gap regarding property crimes, the report said. While Arab citizens reported a rise in concern about such crimes, the Abraham Initiatives monitored a drop in the number of Jewish citizens worried about theft and vandalism.
Some 70.4% Arab women expressed concern about violence against women, an issue that has been brought into the forefront lately throughout Israeli society by a string of murders that have occurred during the coronavirus crisis. The same issue concerned Arab men somewhat less (55.7%).
Regarding trust in the police among members of Arab society in Israel, 45.2% of the survey’s respondents who experienced violence or threats of violence filed complaints with the police, compared with 38.3% in 2018. About half of Arab citizens interviewed said the police treated them well or very well. The survey found that Arab citizens of Israel believe the police handle traffic violations and overall law enforcement well, but they fail to protect Arab citizens and fight violence, crime and criminal families within Arab society. Overall, Arabs’ evaluation of police performance fell from 2018 to 2019, with 17.4% expressing trust in the police, compared with 26.1% in 2018.
Most Arab citizens believe the family is the key to fighting violence in Israel, followed by religious institutions, the education system and societal leaders. At the same time, only 16.7% believe the police are helpful in fighting violence, while even fewer, 9.5%, believe the government is.