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Report: Police hope to enlist 2,500 Muslim officers in 3 years

4 months after appointment, government czar for violence in Arab communities announces resignation over inability to effect change

Illustrative. Israel Police in Bat Yam. on February 27, 2017. (Moti Karelitz/ Flash90/ File)
Illustrative. Israel Police in Bat Yam. on February 27, 2017. (Moti Karelitz/ Flash90/ File)

Police hope to enlist some 2,500 Muslim officers in the next three years, Kan news reported Friday night, with the goal of having those officers make up 10 percent of the force.

Today there are around 780 Muslim policemen, or 3% of the force, the report said.

Kan also reported that the government czar for violence in Arab communities had announced his resignation, a mere four months after his appointment by the last government.

The report said that Aharon Franko, a former top police official, had been unable to make any headway since entering the newly-created post, or to secure cooperation from local leaders, and had come to the conclusion that he could not bring about real change.

The issue of violent crime within the Arab Israeli sector has been a central complaint of the community for a number of years.

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

Illustrative: A police officer giving a ticket in the West Bank. (Israel Police)

“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,” he said.

Bennett made his comments after five Arab Israeli citizens were killed in deadly shootings within a few 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.”

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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