During May 2021, at the same time as Operation Guardian of the Walls in Gaza, violent clashes broke out between Jews and Arabs in mixed cities. The State Comptroller’s report from July 2022, which dealt with the conduct of the police, ISA and municipal services in the cities involved, found deficiencies in the field of intelligence and recommended regulating cooperation between the bodies. Despite the statement of the police representative in June 2023 that such an agreement is in the final stages of signing, according to a report in Kan 11, this agreement has yet to be signed.

In general, it should be noted that the ISA (Israel Security Agency \ Shin-Bet) routinely acts to thwart security threats, and the tools it uses sometimes violate the rights of interrogees. Consequently, these tools must be used cautiously. Therefore, it is important to regulate and clearly define the cooperation and coordination between the Israel Police and the ISA.

In addition to the need for cooperation between the police and the ISA, coordination between the following entities is also crucial: the municipality (the mayor and the relevant departments), the police, and local civil society organizations. The latter often have high accessibility and in-depth familiarity with what is happening on the ground, and therefore their contribution to managing relations in routine times, and especially in times of emergency, is critical.
The importance of these organizations is clearly reflected in research conducted by Dr. Rolly Rosen for the Abraham Initiatives and for the Peace Studies and Conflict Management Program at the University of Haifa. The study found that local civil society organizations play a crucial role in promoting calm and de-escalation.

In accordance with the study’s recommendations, beginning on October 7, the Abraham Initiatives, in cooperation with Givat Haviva and the Tzedek Centers, established the “Guardians of Partnership” project, in which emergency headquarters operate in mixed cities in order to prevent escalation within these cities, based on local and international experience, and a concept of constructive conflict management, which takes into account that both sides will have to continue living side by side even after the tension and violence ends .
The Headquarters are based on a declared commitment to protecting the rights of all residents, as well as cooperation with activists in neighborhoods and civil society organizations, and connections between them, the police and the municipality.

• Given fears of escalation following October 7 – and its refutation in the months since October 7 – highlights the effectiveness of the headquarters. The project should be expanded to all the mixed cities and regions, and cooperation between them and responsible authorities, including the local police, should be deepened.
• There is a need for an unequivocal and clear commitment by the police to ensure equal and adequate protection of the basic civil rights of Arab residents. Cooperation between the local police station, the municipality, and grassroots civil society organizations is a decisive factor in maintaining order in the city. All these elements must strive to institutionalize cooperation. It is also recommended that the police work to build a dedicated operating model for police stations in the mixed cities.
• Increasing police oversight of activities of official neighborhood patrols and armed neighborhood watch groups. Their powers must be defined clearly and published openly in Hebrew and Arabic.

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Silence is Golden