10th October 2019
Eliminating Crime and Violence in Arab Communities – Required Steps by the Government
This document presents demands to the Government in general, and the Ministry of Public Security and the Police in particular. These demands do not contradict the recognition that eradicating crime in Arab society and its root causes also demands attention and action within Arab society.
Actions under the general responsibility of the Government
Five-year plan to eradicate the causes of violence: Addressing the root causes of crime and violence comes under the responsibility of many government ministries and bodies, and not only the Ministry of Public Security and the Police. Accordingly, a government decision is needed mandating the establishment of a committee of director-generals to develop a comprehensive five-year plan for eradicating crime and violence in Arab communities and for supervising its implementation. The plan will be required to respond to the underlying causes of violence.
The committee will include the director-generals of the following ministries and bodies: Public Security, the Chief Commissioner of the Israel Police, Justice, Finance, Welfare, Economics, Education, Construction and Housing, the Taxes Authority, the Israel Association of Community Centers, the Chairperson of the Committee of Heads of Arab Local Authorities, the mayors / director-generals of the largest Arab cities (Umm al-Fahm, Nazareth, Sakhnin, Tamra, Shfar’am, Baqa al-Gharbiya, Taybeh, Kafr Qassem, Tira, Qalansawa, and Rahat).
The program will focus on the following areas, among others:
- Cutting poverty, which leads to violence and crime – through enhancing access to capital and credit for businesses; higher education; economic development and expanding employment opportunities; and a struggle against the black economy.
- Expanding the limited supply of housing, which leads to conflicts and tension – by establishing new Arab cities in the Galilee, the Triangle, and the Negev; thawing land for construction; completing outline plans; and expanding the supply of housing.
- Establishing “unified compounds” for life-saving services (fire-fighting and rescue, urgent medicine, Home Command, and Police).
- Improving leisure infrastructures in Arab communities – including the establishment and full operation of local community and sports centers; establishing playgrounds, parks, and promenades.
- Improving the state’s presence in Arab communities – by bringing government services and institutions.
- Reducing the level of violence against women – running a treatment program for violent men and protecting women by expanding the availability of help centers and shelters for Arab women.
- Establishing and running local arbitration centers in Arab communities and creating connections between police stations and these centers in order to provide a preemptive response to conflicts.
- Education against violence and bullying in schools
- Establishing voluntary frameworks, including parent patrols, road safety, online bullying, urgent medicine, etc.
Actions under the direct responsibility of the Ministry of Public Security and the Police
The following actions will increase trust in the Police as an address for citizens. This will help to solve crimes, thereby in turn increasing trust further.
- Providing security and protection for citizens, including a significant and ongoing police presence – many police stations are not staffed on a 24/7 basis and citizens wonder why they were opened.
- Full staffing of police stations (whether inside or outside the communities). This requires the allocation of adequate staff positions and resources given the level of violence and the needs in each community.
- Solving crime in general, and murders in particular, despite partial cooperation from the public in some cases. Solving crimes is a condition for gaining public trust. The Police should report to the public on difficulties and successes in solving cases.
- Shortening response times and the time it takes the Police to arrive at incidents.
- Active and real-time intervention to halt violence without waiting until it ends, just as the police acts in Jewish communities.
- Eradicating illegal weapons – running campaigns for the anonymous surrender of weapons in return for non-prosecution. Consideration should be given to offering a financial reward for weapons to be confiscated if other offenses are committed; running systemic and frequent campaigns to seize weapons in communities, with an emphasis on weapons dealers and criminals; filing harsher indictments in order to secure harsher penalties for weapons offenses; tightening supervision and penalization of the theft of weapons from the IDF, including joint work with the Defense Ministry on this issue.
- Time out in home demolitions – in reality in which Arab citizens lack reasonable possibilities to secure building permits and there is a severe housing shortage, the demolition of homes without permits is a significant source of tension, hostility, and alienation toward the state. These actions exacerbate the lack of trust in the Police, which secures the demolitions. The demolitions should be suspended until orderly construction is possible.
- Halting the use of quasi-military practices – the use of quasi-military units (particularly Border Police units) should be ended. These units are meant to operate in conflict zones and not to serve a civilian population.
- Focus on criminal rather than “nationalist” crime – the Police should avoid confrontations with Arab citizens on issues such as the flying of flags (an action that is not unlawful). Its intervention on these issues creates aggression toward police officers. Intelligence offices in police stations should end their practice of “closing their eyes” to criminal offenses in return for information of a political or national character.
- Running committees for police-community cooperation including municipal and community representatives and representatives of the Police. These committees should ensure coordination and define priorities for joint attention to problems.
- Service-oriented policing with zero tolerance for abusive officers – officers who humiliate citizens and behave in a provocative, violent, and arbitrary manner damage the trust of Arab citizens in the Police.
- Ending the ties between the police and the “reconciliation” and “arbitration” committees – these ties seriously weaken the image of the Police among citizens and legitimize elements whose legality is doubtful. The reconciliation committees should be replaced by community arbitration centers capable of solving local conflicts as required.
- Accountability and transparency – the Police should regard Arab citizens as clients entitled to explain their problems and receive a response from the Police. To this end, it should establish liaison units with Arab society and ensure that local police stations have spokespeople who can update the local media on an ongoing basis regarding successes and challenges.