The Ramadan holiday means a crime wave in Israel, where farmers suffer increasingly frequent livestock theft, MK Michael Ben-Ari warned Sunday in a letter to Minister of Internal Security Yitzchak Aharonovich.
The brazen thieves sneak into pastures and pens and grab calves, sheep and goats, which they shove into their vehicles, he said. They then drive off and sell the animals immediately, usually in Arab villages.
During Ramadan, demand for meat is high among Muslim citizens of Israel as well as Palestinian Authority Arabs, meaning the thieves can charge high prices for the stolen animals.
“According to what farmers have told me, the phenomenon gets worse as the days of Id el-Fitr, which end the Ramadan fast, approach,” Ben-Ari wrote.
“The feeling the farmers have is that they've been abandoned,” he added. “They argue that their complaints are not taken seriously, or that there are few police patrols in high-crime areas.”
Ben-Ari proposed immediate action. “It seems to me that the Police Chief would be wise in gathering [intelligence] data and 'providing the medicine before the illness' as much as possible... through proper preparation and increasing police presence in the problematic areas,” he suggested.
“Obviously, in a farm where dozens of cattle are stolen in a single night, the owners can face financial collapse, and can sometimes be forced out of the business completely,” Ben-Ari concluded. “The damage to the state of Israel and to the farming industry is severe.”
The Supreme Court has termed agricultural theft a "national plague." The phenomenon has grown in recent years, with thousands of thefts reported annually. Many are carried out by PA Arabs, who are particularly difficult to nab as they can take shelter in PA-controlled areas in which Israeli police have no jurisdiction.