The Israeli parliament, Knesset, advanced last week three bills seeking to increase the powers of its security and prison authorities, measures that could disproportionately affect the state’s citizens, especially the Arab-Palestinian national minority. The Knesset approved the first reading of one bill, which would permit the country’s police force to break into, search homes and confiscate cameras without requiring a court order.
Israeli police officers at the city of Lod in Central Israel (Photo: Israeli Police)
The law’s goal is “to combat crime in Arab society,” and it will allow the police to search Arab buildings without a court order. There is a fear that the police will exploit the law in the field of hiding evidence, Zo Haderech reported. Human rights advocates criticized the law, warning that it could harm Arab society and all citizens.
Recent studies have shown that Arab citizens of Israel are imprisoned at a disproportionately high rate. Arab n homes are often subject to raids by the Israeli security forces, with the alleged aim of “curbing violent protests” or searching for “wanted suspects”.
Another bill, Amendment 7 of the Security Service/Military law, was also advanced through the legislative process. The bill would allow Israeli army soldiers to reinforce the country’s police service.
Despite the damage the three bills could cause Israel’s citizens, Labor, Meretz and the Islamist United Arab List, also known as Ra’am, which are part of the current coalition government, voted for them.
In the same context, the Knesset’s Joint List described the law as “dangerous,” adding that it “gives the Israeli police and army full powers to storm homes without a court warrant,” and voted against the measures. According the Joint List the law is being proposed under the cover of “combating violence and crime, so that Arab homes are permissible and their sanctity is violated, as the police and army see fit.” The leaders of the Joint List accuse the police of being responsible for the spread of crime within the community and also for turning a blind eye to the complaints of the residents.