Seven shooting incidents within Israel’s Arab community over the weekend brought the total number of Arab victims of crime-related violence this year to 93 dead. On Saturday evening, September 25, 120 Arab and Jewish citizens gathered outside the home of Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev in the town of Kokhav Ya’ir to protest the government’s insufficient commitment to combat the rising violence in the country’s Arab communities.
According to reports shared by Hadash activists on Twitter, protestors who came there to demonstrate outside Bar Lev’s house were told by police that they will not be permitted to protest in the area and that it is “forbidden to protest outside the houses of politicians on Shabbat [the Jewish Sabbath].” Nevertheless, demonstrators held the protest and carried signs in Hebrew and Arabic reading “Arab Lives Matter,” “Police Racism Kills,” “No More Violence and Crime,” and “Arab Victims of Crime against Violence.” Joint List chairman, MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash), was among those present at the demonstration.
On Sunday, September 26, MK Ofer Cassif (Hadash – Joint List), commented that the root causes of crime in Israel’s Arab communities must also be addressed. “Collecting illegal weapons and waging a war against organized crime is a must, but it is not enough,” he said, remarking that access to housing, green spaces, education and jobs are some of the areas he believes must be improved.
Referring to plans being discussed by citizens to launch an application to help combat crime, MK Cassif lamented that regular citizens feel that they have to step in and do the work of the governmental authorities. “In no democratic or normal state do the police ask the citizens to be the ones who act against criminals,” Cassif said. “This is the state’s obligation towards all its citizens.”
In an article published in Haaretz, senior police officials admitted that their organization is not managing to take control of and reverse the spiraling wave of shootings and murders in Israel’s Arab community, which have been on the rise over recent months, and which are totally out of proportion to the statistics in the Jewish communities. “We have lost control of the street in Arab communities. There is no orderly plan to contend with crime and the police commissioner sees his job as being limited to responding to incidents,” one senior officer told the newspaper.