Government okays NIS 150 million plan to fight crime in Arab communities

The government approves a NIS 150 million ($45 million) plan to combat the spread of violence and organized crime in Arab cities and towns, the Prime Minister’s Office announces.

The plan, which was announced by Netanyahu in early February, includes the establishment of “five new police stations, two fire departments and the establishment of a special police unit devoted to combating crime in Arab communities.” Another NIS 1 million ($302,500) will be devoted to raising awareness about violence in Arab communities.

Arab Israelis have seen a staggering rise in violence in their communities over the past few years, with the homicide rate rising to a record 96 victims last year. Many charge that police neglect to solve crimes or crack down on organized gangs in their cities and towns. Passing a major relief plan to combat the problem has been a central priority for Arab lawmakers.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announces a new plan to fight crime in Arab Israeli communities on February 3, 2021 (screenshot: YouTube)

Netanyahu’s plan has been criticized by Arab politicians and civil society organizations, who had hoped for billions of shekels to be allocated to the issue.

The Abraham Initiatives nonprofit, a shared society organization that has worked extensively on relations between Israel Police and Arab Israelis, called the plan “too little, too late” in a statement at the time the proposal was unveiled.

“The immediate measures presented, and especially the meager budget provided, do not provide a solution in and of themselves. A handful of police stations, fire stations and community buildings, at a total cost of NIS 100 million — this is not a serious response to rampant crime,” the Abraham Initiatives said in a statement in early February.