Bennett announces national plan to fight crime in Arab community

Deputy Police Commissioner Jamal Hakroush says the ‘historic’ inclusion of an Arab party in the coalition government is an opportunity to tackle violent crime

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett leads a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on June 20, 2021. (Alex Kolomoisky/POOL)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett leads a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on June 20, 2021. (Alex Kolomoisky/POOL)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced at the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday morning that Israel would implement a national plan to tackle crime in the country’s Arab sector.

“I spoke this morning with the public security minister and we agreed on the formulation of a national plan to fight crime in the Arab community as soon as possible,” said Bennett during the meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. “We will do this in all dimensions: civil, economic and, of course, criminal. This is, first of all, the desire of the community itself and it is of course an overall national interest.”

Bennett made his comments after five Arab Israeli citizens were killed in deadly shootings over the past four days. The prime minister noted that since the start of 2021, “dozens of people have been murdered in the Arab community.”

“The violence in the Arab community is a blight on the country that has been neglected for many years,” Bennett added. “Responsibility for fighting this is on our shoulders. This is a national mission.”

The prime minister referenced the Saturday drive-by shooting of a family driving in their car in the Galilee. A husband, wife and their 16-year-old daughter were killed, while their 9-year-old daughter was wounded. And on Monday morning, a truck driver was shot dead at a gas station in Lod.

“On behalf of the government of Israel, I would like to convey condolences to the families,” Bennett said.

Security forces inspect the scene where Yousef and Noel Jerushi were shot dead along with their 16-year-old daughter, near the Arab town of Ailabun, on June 26, 2021. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

Deputy Police Commissioner Jamal Hakroush said Sunday that there is a “historic” opportunity to address high crime rates in Arab Israeli communities, noting the inclusion of Arab lawmakers in the ruling coalition.

“I have a message to the Arab sector,” Hakroush told Kan news. “We are in a historic period and we have to take advantage of it. We have representatives in the government that can bring what was lacking — like budgets and policing to the Arab street.”

Hakroush, the first Arab Israeli to be a deputy police commissioner, also urged introspection.

“We all need to look inwards and we cannot accept the existing situation,” he said. “We need to say honestly that not everything begins and ends with the police.”

The Islamist Ra’am Party, which joined Bennett’s government coalition, ran on a platform of tackling violence in Israel’s Arab communities. When Ra’am signed a coalition agreement in early June, it noted that Bennett and his coalition partner, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, agreed to provide NIS 2.5 million ($770,000) to fight violence and organized crime in Arab society.

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