Internal affairs Committee Chairman MK Yoav Kisch (Likud) on Tuesday asked Police Deputy Commissioner Jamal Hakrush if the police encourage reconciliation ceremonies in Israel’s Arab sector that in reality prevent victims from exercising their rights.
The exchange took place during the committee’s meeting on crime and violence in the Arab sector, and the individual testifying was the first Arab Muslim promoted to the post of deputy commissioner. Which is why Chairman Kisch was not pulling his punches.
“Were the recent homicide cases in Lod and Jaffa related to organized crime?” he demanded to know. Also: “Do financial institutions such as the Income Tax and VAT have to get involved in order to combat this phenomenon in collaboration with the police?”
“This week’s murder incidents are a clear warning signal,” Kisch warned. “There is no fear. They do what they want on the streets. These are crime organizations. Everything is out in the open, a yard away from [special cases unit] Lahav 433. How do we deal with uncontrolled gangs? It’s intolerable and cannot continue.”
Police Major General Hakrush responded: “I live and breathe the Arab society. It’s my society. The situation is no less painful to me. As for the police, we have departed from slogans. There is a plan to handle crime. I presented it here before the Committee two years ago.”
“As long as people say that only the police is blame, we will not solve the problem,” he continued. “I am not shirking my responsibility. We have the authority. Everyone agreed that we must set up police stations in Arab communities, but then the media stated that wherever there is a station there is more violence.”
“I have the statistics. In Nazareth there is a police station and it has one of the lowest rates of violence proportionate to the number of residents. One murder is too much, but we reach zero here and now,” Hakrush said.
“The number of cases solved has risen from 18% to 42%,” he pointed out. “When I say solved, I mean obtaining an indictment and putting the person behind bars. Last year, we obtained 32 indictments out of 68 murders. 993 firearms were confiscated this year. This is a 22% increase. Ever since there has been a police station in Jasar A-Zarka, there’s been a 22% decrease in crime and a 74% decrease in shooting on the streets.”
MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint Arab List) asserted that “the mafia is very satisfied with the way the police is functioning. Since the year 2000, there have been 1,311 victims of internal Arab violence. This calls for a government resolution.”
MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint Arab List) argued that “perhaps we can stop using the term violence. This is not classic violence. This is organized crime, but there are no plans to handle crime and groups that take control over the population from a financial perspective, and become power centers. The police knows that crime organizations conduct the ‘mediation.’ The police use these people to solve problems. Is there a connection between the tax authorities and the police?”
MK Hanin Zoabi (Joint Arab List) proclaimed: “I call upon the committee chairman: initiate a debate within 10 Arab communities, in Kalansua, in Umm El-Fahm. Speak with the victims. You will hear of cases and you will say: I don’t live in this country.”
MK Akram Hasson (Kulanu), a Druze, said “the dialogue hasn’t changed in the past three years that I’ve been an MK. […] There is no leadership in the Arab sector. There is no mayor willing to make a sacrifice and combat this phenomenon. We have to start with the preschools. High school students in the Arab sector are also violent. In nearly every jail cell, 4 or 5 out of every 6 or 7 inmates are Arabs. Every second prisoner is from the sector.”
Kamal Rian, a representative of the Federation of Local Authorities, pointed out that “this year has seen 68 murder victims. This trend was also evident in the past; however, in the past there was no debate in the Internal Affairs Committee. In 2012, 12 people were murdered, and there was no reaction. Today there is awareness. If only the police had acted 15 years ago like it has begun to act today. When the crime families entered the scene, the police left. Now they have established themselves, and we need twice the power to keep them in check.”