Minister Aharonovich
Minister AharonovichIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Dozens of police and border guards descended on towns and villages in “the Triangle” Monday, in an effort to clean up a hotbed of organized crime in an area with the country's highest percentage of criminals. The Triangle refers to Arab towns and villages in the center of Israel adjacent to the former 1948 border, and police say that much of the property crime that affects the center of the country is undertaken by the many Arab criminal gangs in the area. Beyond property crimes, the Arab gangs have long struggled for dominance in the area, and some 70 gangland-style murders have taken place there in recent years.

Police entered towns and villages and set up temporary posts, and a police spokesperson said they planned on staying. Police also raided a number of high-profile criminal hangouts. Among the sites police raided Monday was Abd al-Khader compound in Taibe. Al-Khader is the head of one of the largest Triangle gangs. In preparation for the raid, police destroyed 19 security cameras around the compound and on the roads leading to it. Al-Khader would use the cameras to see if police or rival gang members were approaching his house, and would alert members of his gang to prepare for battle.

A police spokesperson placed great weight on the dismantling of al-Khader's camera system. “The cameras were hung on electricity poles belonging to the Israel Electric Company and filmed everyone and everything on the streets outside the compound, as if it was al-Khader's private property.”

Police said they hoped that their presence in the area – and the raids – would drive home the message that they intended to clean up the crime in the Triangle. Public Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovich said in response to the raid that “I see no difference between a resident of Taibe and a resident of Herzliya. I will use all the tools at my disposal to uproot this problem. I intend to ensure that Taibe is as peaceful as Herzliya,” he added.