The first murder of 2021 in Israel took place in Jadeidi-Makr, an Arab local council formed in 1990 by the merger of the two Arab towns of Makr and Jadeidi, a few miles east of Acre in northern. A 21-year-old resident of the village was killed in a drive-by shooting around 12:30 AM. Nine and a half hours earlier, around 3 PM, a resident of the same village, age 27, had been stabbed in the head.
Police are looking into the possibility that there was a connection between the two incidents. To an outside observer, the connection is obvious: both victims are Israeli Arabs.
A total of 113 Israeli Arabs were killed in 2020 in murders and other violent incidents, compared with 94 in 2019 (a 20% increase). 96 of the victims were men and 17 women.
According to Aman, the Arab Center for Combating Violence, 26 of the victims were killed as revenge, 11 in domestic violence, 41 participated in “serious crime,” and the rest fell victim to “general violence.” According to the center, only 28 of the murders committed in 2020 were solved.
The data also show that the escalation continued throughout the year and that December was the deadliest month, with 17 murder victims, including a triple murder in the town of Baqa al-Gharbiyye, an Arab town in the Haifa District. Several violent incidents have taken place only this week, when a resident of Lod was murdered in his car, and a 15-year-old boy was shot dead and his friend was fatally wounded by gunfire on Rt. 6, under the watchful eye of police officers who were following their vehicle.
It is believed that these recent events were part of a protracted conflict between rival Arab crime families.
In total, since 2000, 1,523 Arabs have been killed in violent incidents, 80% of them by firearms, according to data from the Aman Center. It is estimated that there are 400,000 illegal weapons in Israel.
Serious shooting incidents are being recorded in almost every Arab locality every night, as are the arsons of vehicles and businesses. These often imply extortion and protection scams.
According to the chairman of the Knesset Special Committee for the Elimination of Crime in Arab Society, who is also a Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, MK Mansour Abbas, head of the RAAM faction in the Joint Arab List, 93% of all criminal shooting incidents in Israel take place in Arab society.
November saw an unprecedented wave of bank robberies at gunpoint attributed to an Arab organized crime. One suspect was shot dead by a police force that lay in ambush outside a bank. The investigation is still ongoing, but no indictments have been filed in the case.
Despite the record number of murders in Arab society, the dissolution of the Knesset froze the implementation of the recommendations of a report issued by an executive committee appointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to deal with crime and violence in Arab locals. In early November, Netanyahu attended a special meeting of the committee, promised to raise the recommendations at his forthcoming cabinet meeting, and promised results in two more weeks – and since then, crickets. Six weeks later the government fell, and with it the chance that the report’s recommendations would be implemented any time soon.
“The prime minister assured me in committee that it would be submitted to the government for approval within two weeks, I am waiting to hear about the allocation of a budget of half a billion shekels for five years,” Chairman Abbas told Walla. MK Abbas made headlines in December when he announced his intention to support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in exchange for benefits for the Arab public in Israel.
“Every day I call the Prime Minister’s Office, and I am told that without a state budget there is no budget for the implementation of the plan. 2.5 billion shekel will be the cost of the fourth election campaign – that’s where the money is going.”
Abbas is disappointed and angry after both being criticized for approaching Netanyahu to advance the interests of Arab society, and also for coming back empty handed.
The large budgets that have streamed to the Arab municipal authorities in recent years to close gaps in infrastructure, education and other areas, have attracted Arab organized crime, which is taking over Arab local municipalities. A Knesset Research and Information Center report shows that more than half of the heads of the 67 Arab municipalities in Israel have been found by the Ministry of Internal Security to be under threats from Arab organized crime. Their number has doubled from 17 in 2017 to 35 in 2019, and 67 in 2020.
It is a self-fulfilling process: as Arab organized crime families take hold of local municipal services they get more money, which in turn makes them stronger.
“A vacuum was created after the police eliminated the Jewish crime families, and Arab organized crime entered it,” CEO of Aman Rada Jaber told Walla. “What used to be a backyard drug business has risen to the forefront, creating a substantial criminal economy that’s taking over resources, legitimate businesses, and tenders by local authorities.”
According to Jaber, the Netanyahu government’s attempt to inject budgets of more than $1 billion into the Arab sector has strengthened Arab organized crime that sucks those budgets and grows and grows until the law enforcement system is unable to deal with it at all.