The feeling of personal security among Jews in Israel is two-and-a-half times greater than it is for Arab citizens, according to a report issued Tuesday by the Abraham Fund Initiatives.
“Violence, Personal Security, and Policing in Arab Communities – 2017” is the first in a series of annual reports the Jerusalem-based NGO plans to publish.
The goal of the reports is to monitor attitudes among Arab citizens of Israel on issues relating to policing and violence; the work of the police among Arabs; and to evaluate progress in implementing Government Decision 1402 – adopted on April 10, 2016 – for enhancing personal security in the Arab sector.
The report found a sharp rise in the level of crime and violence in Arab society over recent years. “The phenomenon appears to have reached plague-like proportions,” a statement released with the report said.
Seventy Arab citizens were killed in 2017, accounting for more than 55% of murder and manslaughter victims in Israel that year, according to the report.
A summary of the report listed the main reasons for violence in Arab society as: inadequate police presence in Arab communities; the poor socioeconomic condition of the Arab population (half of all Arab families are defined as poor and almost two-thirds of Arab children live below the poverty line); high unemployment, particularly among youths; changes in Arab society that are causing tension between tradition and modernity; a lack of government services; discrimination; and inequality compared to the majority-Jewish society.
The proportion of Arabs reporting violence in their places of residence was 54% – four times higher than among Jews; 49% of Arabs said they felt there was a widespread problem of illegal shooting and the illegal use of firearms, compared to just 7% among Jews; and 36% of Arabs feel the police are responsible for their security, compared to 63% of Jewish citizens.
“This alarming finding shows that the majority of the Arab public does not rely on the police and does not consider it responsible for its security,” the report said. “Conversely, the proportion of Arab citizens who believe that the family or parents are responsible for residents’ personal security is 32%, compared to just 1% among Jewish citizens.”
The report contained suggestions on how to improve personal security in Arab communities.
It recommended a systematic, long-term program for the struggle against violence within the Arab communities and the allocation of necessary resources for its implementation.
Such a program should include “a regular and positive police presence in Arab communities, including the adoption of a service and community-oriented approach to residents,” the report said.
Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told The Jerusalem Post the police are constantly engaged in dialogue with Arab community leaders, including Knesset members and local village leaders throughout the country.
He also stressed that the police are working to increase enforcement in Arab communities.
Rosenfeld mentioned Asst.-Ch. Jamal Hakrush, a Muslim Arab who is currently head of a police division that is intended to improve police services to the Arab population.
“They are meant to serve the Arab sector in their own language and to create a platform for dialogue between the police the communities,” Rosenfeld said. “This is the purpose of the division, and that is the reason of its establishment.”