Police (archive)
Police (archive)Hadas Parosh; Flash 90

The Knesset Interior Committee headed by MK Dudu Amsalem held a wide-ranging discussion about violence among the Arab population.

"There have been 13 murders in a single place in Beit Jann. The police are powerless to prevent it or do find the guilty parties," according to Bayan Qabalan, Head of the Beit Jann Local Council. "13 murders with nobody held to account. This intolerable situation will ultimately turn on you. If nothing is done you will suffer as we do." Beit Jann is a Druze village in northern Israel.

The discussion was held at the request of MKs Osama Saadi, Mickey Levy and Issawi Frej.

Mazin G'Nayem, mayor of Sakhnin said, "1,165 Arab citizens have been murdered since 2000. [The government] acts as though the local mayors are not cooperating. This is simply not true. We reach out to you [to help us]. In a recent discussion held in Modi'in, one of the police heads claimed that in a single Arab village there were more than 20,000 firearms.

"We expect the police to treat us like all other citizens. Parents do not allow their children to leave home after 4 pm. If we do not work together to stop the next killing the numbers will continue to increase. In any other country, ministers would have resigned over such numbers."

Kamal Riyan, vice president of the Center for Local Government, told the lawmakers, "I lost my son in 2009. At his graveside, I placed his file in the hands of the police. I will not give up until I know who killed my son. There are almost 300 murderers and over 100,000 firearms among us. My 13-year-old son was killed. I thought the State of Israel would have an 'intifada' over the murder of children.

"I thought that there would be a huge outcry when a police officer told Channel 1 a year and a half ago that at every police station there is an officer with ties to a crime family. If that is true then we are living in a banana republic."

Deputy minister Ayoob Kara praised the discussion about this issue. "Violence is the biggest problem within the [Arab] sector. I'm afraid to say that we have lost faith in the system. It is very important to work to build trust. The goal is for the betterment of the sector. I hope that the system which is being established [by the police] can bring good news. There have been dozens of people killed in the Galil in the past few years. What is the reason that not even one murder has been solved?"

MK Osama Saadi read out a long list of those who have been murdered. The most recent victim was only 16 years old. "Crime and violence have taken over. We are desperate for a solution that will include listening to Arab experts."

MK Mickey Levy agreed that "the numbers are truly staggering. We are not doing enough in terms of budget either. In the past year, the police have tried. But they have not done enough. We need to pressure the governmental leaders to transfer money to the [Arab] sector."

MK Issawi Frej stressed that "this is a burning issue. It is an existential threat to our society. I do not expect anything from the police. I simply want them to collect the illegal weapons. Access to firearms should be impossible."

Committee head, MK Dudu Amsalem summarized the discussion in his statement. "I will establish a working committee of four people - myself, another MK, two mayors and a police representative. Within 3-4 weeks I want to understand the plan. After that, I want a timetable for action. We need to work out a plan with the people. I know that the Minister of Public Security has set three goals. One of them is the eradication of crime within the Arab sector. He is also fighting within the government to gain a budget.

"Gaining an additional 1300 Arab police officers is a very significant step. We have full agreement on this issue. It is the most fundamental right of every citizen and the obligation of the State to provide security for all citizens. When there is no security for citizens there is no State, there is no society, there is nothing. There can be no distinction between Jews and Arabs."