Deputy Minister of Public Security Yoav Segalovitz (Yesh Atid) on Sunday presented to the Knesset Public Security Committee, chaired by MK Merav Ben Ari (Yesh Atid) the main points of his ministry’s Safe Route plan, its targets, and the work teams, including civil enforcement, Israel Tax Authority, black market, and the team on tenders in local authorities.
Deputy Minister Segalovitz said that the plan targets 631 individuals, of whom 166 had been detained until the end of the legal proceedings against them for serious criminal offenses. In addition, 144 indictments were filed.
Segalovitz also noted the work of the legal team, which prepared a legislative package for fighting crime. For example, the Justice Minister’s order expanding the powers of the economic courts was approved, and a minimum sentence was passed for possession of illegal weapons.
“We’ve seen a decrease in the number of murders in Arab society and a dramatic increase in weapon seizures,” Deputy Minister Segalovitz told the committee, adding that “in the period between October 17, 2020, and March 21, 2021, 56 murders were recorded in Arab society, versus 42 murder cases between October 17, 2021, and March 21, 2022.”
“The criminals must understand that the rules of the game have changed. This is a social mission of the first order. The deliberations have ended and we’re moving on to actions,” he said.
The Public Security Committee convened on Sunday for a follow-up meeting on the “Safe Route” national plan for the eradication of crime in Arab society. Committee Chair Ben Ari said: “We have been monitoring the various actions taken in the context of the war on crime. We see initial signs of change, thanks to the professional work of the Deputy Minister of Public Security, the detailed planning, the target timetables, and the general mobilization of the Government ministries.”
Ministry of Finance Director General Ram Blinkov told the committee: “The black market team deals with two main areas—reducing the use of cash and encouraging people to take mortgages and loans. We have discovered cash amounting to hundreds of thousands and millions in the homes of organized crime groups. For this reason, restrictions have to be imposed to reduce the possession of cash. In addition, we aim to eliminate the use of fictitious invoices and to increase enforcement on financial service providers that serve to launder criminal activity and illegal checks. In terms of mortgages, it’s difficult to obtain a mortgage in Arab society because of registration problems. Therefore, many people turn to non-bank sources that are controlled by criminal elements.”
MK Osama Saadi (Joint Arab List) said, “More than a third of Arab citizens do not have bank accounts. In some municipalities, there is not even one bank. When a person does not have the option of getting a mortgage he goes to the black market, and there are no solutions for this.”
Saadi also argued that not enough was being done to collect weapons and solve murder cases in the Arab sector.
MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint Arab List) agreed that reducing cash possession was a legitimate way of fighting the black market. However, he noted, “many post offices and bank branches are being closed down. There is large-scale trading in cash between good, legitimate people who simply don’t have bank accounts or credit cards.”
MK Orit Strock (Religious Zionism) said, “I am jealous because such thorough work is being done to eradicate crime in Arab society. Not one per mill of this work is being done about nationalistic crime. The police’s [current] ability to bring nationalistic rioters to justice … creates zero deterrence. Nationalistic crime is just as severe as a [regular] crime.”
MK Simcha Rothman (Religious Zionism) said, “Strengthening local government is in the interest of the state. People are afraid to [submit bids] because they are threatened by criminal elements. We are imposing additional difficulties and restrictions on law-abiding citizens because there is a lack of willingness to deal with criminals effectively.”
MK Yomtob Kalfon (Yemina) said he was concerned because only two of eight bills aimed at eradicating crime in Arab society were passed into law over the 10 months since the establishment of the Naftali Bennett government.