Increase in Crime Rate Among Arab-Israelis: Who's to Blame?
During the past 5 years, crime rate has drastically increased in the Arab communities in Israel, and though there has not been much change in the past 2 years, crime rate percentage is alarmingly high.
According to the 2018 Personal Security Index, aimed at studying violence, crime, and policing in Arab towns in Israel; 71 Arab-Israelis have been killed in 2018. The index shows rising homicide among Arabs in Arab towns in Israel, as 61% of all murder and manslaughter victims in Israel were Arab citizens, and 95% of murder suspects were Arabs.
Multiple political, cultural and economical reasons contribute to the high number of Arab-Israelis involved in criminal activities, most prominent being the absence of law, which creates a fertile environment for out lawlessness and abolishes trust in the police and the judicial systems.
The Absence of Law and Order in Arab Towns
Arab towns with police presence have also witnessed high crime rates, according to local residents ‘the role of the police is insufficient to prevent murders and in almost all cases, they fail to arrest the perpetrators.’ According to a study by the Meezaan Center for Human Rights, 70% of murder cases between 2014 and 2017 remain unsolved.
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The indifference of the police in Arab towns has created miss trust within Arab-Israelis, according to the index, 61.7% of Arab citizens who were the victims of violence stated that they did not submit a complaint to the police about the incident, and therefore, they seek alternative solutions without referring to the law. Reasons behind this miss trust date back to the early 2000s when 12 Arab-Israelis were killed by the police at a protest during the Arab Israeli conflict of the 2nd Intifada. An official investigation committee led by Judge Theodore Or was established to investigate the incident but failed to produce any real results.
In light of the committee’s investigation, State Comptroller and Ombudsman Joseph H. Shapira reported that Israeli institutions did not show any understanding of the needs of the Arab society in Israel and that they did not work hard enough to provide Arab towns with equal resources and treatment. The main failure in his point of view is the absence of legal procedures and law enforcement in Arab towns.
In 2017, three Arab-Israelis were killed by police members, and all investigation files were closed without a trial. The closure of investigation files deepened the feeling of alienation of Arab-Israelis.
The absence of police in Arab towns also contributes to the possession of unlicensed firearms in Arab Towns, which facilitates crime, and shifts power in small communities.
Comptroller Shapira stated that the lack of coordination between the police and other bodies of the Israeli government plays a role in having illegal firearms in reach of Arab-Israelis. He continues, that the ISF needs to apply more control over its firearms to prevent theft. Also, The Israeli Border Guards need to adopt more strict methods to eliminate the firearms smuggling from Jordan into Israel. Shapira emphasized that Israeli Intelligence needs to put more effort into dealing with criminal cases in Arab towns.
Socio-Economic Conditions of Arab-Israelis
Arab towns in Israel lack infrastructure, facilities, and government services, and are usually overcrowded because of the restrictions imposed on them by the Israeli government. “Not a single new Arab city or town has been built in Israel since 1948...the same place that had 150,000 citizens, now hosts 1.3 million people,” says Dr. Ahmad Amara, Director of International Advocacy at the Meezaan Center For Human Rights. Arab-Israelis live in fragmented units that do not comply with safety requirements due to the refusal of construction permits by the Israeli government.
Other contributing factors are the high rate of unemployment and poverty, approximately 54% of the people below the poverty line in Israel are Arabs, this is because of the low percentage of Arabs in the Israeli labor market. Arab labor in Israel is “hard labor” and usually concentrated in jobs with low wages, such as construction, agriculture, and industrial. Clear discrimination against Arab-Israelis is also manifested in the wages’ difference between Arab Israelis and Jewish Israelis, where the average hourly rate for Arabs is NIS 31 while for Jewish employees it is NIS 52.8.
Others argue that the lack of authority in the Arab community plays a role in the high crime rate in Israel, especially crimes targeting women; younger generations are adopting a less-religious lifestyle, drifting away from past traditions, values, and ethics; that they have abided by in the past, where a higher ranking individual in the community ( such as Imams, parents, relatives, and municipal representatives) can act as an authority for conflict resolution. Leaving outdated concepts such as revenge crimes and honor killings unchecked and the perpetrators unpunished.
In 2018, 15 Arab women were killed, while in 2011, nine Arab women were killed; 3 of them were killed by their husbands and in 2010, ten Arab women were killed, six of them were killed by their husbands as well.
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