Opposition MKs walked out of the Knesset plenum on Tuesday when National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Givr stood up to respond to their motion to take action against crime in the Arab community. Ben-Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit racist party boycotted the plenum session, but Ben-Gvir was there to give the government’s response. Only four far-right coalition members attended the emergency meeting to discuss the issue.
A mass protest against the far-right government’s inaction amid a violent wave of crime in Arab communities, Tel-Aviv, August 6, 2023 (Photo: Abraham Initiatives)
The motion was filed by Hadash-Ta’al as the number of murder victims among the Arab-Palestinian national minority reached this year 178, which is almost 100 more than the same time last year.
Hadash-Ta’al chair, MK Ayman Odeh, said violence in the Arab community was a product of Israeli racism. “Racism is holding the Arabs responsible,” Odeh said. “Racism is when a plan was presented last year to stop violence in the Arab community said results would be seen after a decade. Racism is when the minister who is supposed to deal with crime isn’t seen as a failure when he fails.”
There is a difference between violence and crime, he said, adding that preventing violence is the responsibility of leadership on every level from community to national, but crime is the responsibility of the government. Odeh said the Palestinian Authority’s police commissioner told him 29 Palestinians were murdered in crime-related incidents in the West Bank this year. Twenty-seven of the perpetrators were indicted, and the police knew the identities of the other two and would apprehend them, he said he was told.
Labor leader MK Merav Michaeli said the government was failing in its most important duty of providing its citizens with protection from crime, especially in the Arab community. Fewer than 10% of murders of Arabs are being solved, compared with 83% in the Jewish sector, she said.
“The police aren’t given the tools or the budget to solve cases in the Arab sector,” she added. “It’s a matter of political will. Arab crime is growing, and murder victims are piling up. The previous government put the fight against crime at the top of its priorities.” Michaeli said there would be more than 200 murder victims in the Arab community in Israel by the end of the year.