Posted on April 6, 2023

Israel Police Chief Says It Is Arabs’ ‘Nature’ to Murder

Times of Israel, April 4, 2023

Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai claimed it is part of the “nature” and “mentality” of Arabs Israelis to kill, in a phone call with National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir that the latter apparently leaked to the press.

The comments were made during a conversation that the two men were having about the national guard that Ben Gvir is seeking to establish, ostensibly in part to combat record-high crime rates in Arab communities.

“One murder after another. It has crossed every line. We need a strong national guard,” Ben Gvir was quoted to have said in a transcript leaked to Channel 12 on Tuesday.

“Mr. Minister, there is nothing that can be done. They kill each other. That is their nature. That is the mentality of the Arabs,” Shabtai responded.

Ben Gvir and Shabtai have been feuding intensely for over a week over the national guard, with the police commissioner warning against placing the nascent force under the authority of the far-right minister. The decision to leak damning contents of their private conversation appeared to bring ties between the minister in charge of the police and the commissioner to a new low.

Shabtai’s office fumed at the publication of the comments in the press, saying the commissioner was shocked that Ben Gvir and his office “are recording personal conversations between the minister and the commissioner and are outraged that statements were taken out of context from a conversation that dealt with patterns of conduct in Arab society.”

The police statement did not seek to walk back the prejudiced comments attributed to Shabtai and instead lamented what the commissioner claimed was a trend in Arab society, whose members, the statement said, “refuse to reveal the identity of murderers, even when it is known to the relatives of the victims.”

Shabtai’s office said the decision to leak his conversation with Ben Gvir “calls into question the ability of the police to report to the minister without fearing the disclosure of sources or that the conversations will be distorted.”


Ayman Odeh, who chairs the majority-Arab opposition Joint List party, called for Shabtai to be fired over the comments. He also maintained that they were factually inaccurate.

“The number of Palestinians killed in [criminal incidents in] Israel is seven times higher than the number of Palestinians killed [in criminal incidents] in the West Bank, Gaza and Jordan,” Odeh tweeted. “This is not the nature of the Palestinians, it is the nature of the racist establishment.

“In any other country, a racist commissioner like Shabtai would be fired in an instant. Shabtai, Resign!” he added.

Mansour Abbas, who heads the Knesset’s more moderate Arab Ra’am party, said Shabtai should be given the chance to apologize.

“I expect the police commissioner to retract his obscene remarks about Arab society and apologize to the Arab public or resign from his position,” Abbas said, and urged “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog to strongly condemn Shabtai’s racist statements.”


Arab communities have seen a rising wave of violence in recent years. Many blame the police, which they say has failed to crack down on powerful criminal organizations and largely ignores the violence, which includes family feuds, mafia turf wars and violence against women.

According to the anti-violence campaign group the Abraham Initiatives, 43 Arab Israelis have been killed in violent incidents since the start of the year.