Tara Kavaler, The Media Line, January 22, 2019
Despite a plateau in the number of killings in Israel’s Arab community in 2018, over the last few years there has been a major spike in the homicide rate. Last year, 70 Arab-Israelis were murdered, according to the Israel Police, whereas in the four proceeding years their incidence increased significantly from 56 to 72.
Moreover, between 2014 and 2016 ninety-five percent of murder suspects in residential areas were Arab, according to a 2018 report released by the state comptroller. Arabs make up around 20 percent of Israel’s population.
Nearly half of all Israeli women killed in 2018 were Arab, whose lives are ended at nearly double the rate of the general population, the report found. This is in part due to “honor killings,” which typically involve a male murdering a female relative over a perceived shame inflicted on the family.
A lack of infrastructure coupled with overcrowding in Arab centers are helping to create breeding grounds for criminal activity, Dr. Ahmad Amara, Director of International Advocacy at the West Bank-based Meezaan Center For Human Rights, contended to The Media Line. “Not a single new Arab city or town has been built in Israel since its establishment in 1948,” he claimed, “so the same place that had 150,000 citizens now hosts 1.3 million people and you simply have no space. Many crimes happen over neighborly relationships, cars and traffic.
“Arab society is in transition. Family control and other types of social norms have corroded. Civic structures can exert less control over people and so there is an erosion of authority within the Arab community itself,” he related.
Some people believe that discrimination partially accounts for the high crime rates, given that those mistreated by society have a propensity to turn on themselves.
Meanwhile, there is a severe lack of police officers in Arab communities and 70 percent of murder cases between 2014 and 2017 remain unsolved, according to the Meezaan Center. This is largely attributed to Arab wariness of law enforcement, which leads to fewer witnesses coming forward.
In 2016, the government allocated more than NIS 1 billion ($280,000) to establish ten more police stations in Arab towns and to deploy more than a thousand new officers on the ground. However, in October 2018, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh revealed that some NIS 400 million ($108,000) had been slashed from the program.
According to Goodman, reducing the number of murders in Israel’s Arab community requires a holistic approach that addresses matters ranging from better policing to combating poverty, from lowering unemployment rates to improving social benefits.