Police chief Yaakov (Kobi) Shabtai
Police chief Yaakov (Kobi) ShabtaiYonatan Sindel/Flash90

At Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Minister of Public Security Omer Barlev and Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai presented an overview of the fight against crime and violence in Arab society, which has claimed 58 victims since the beginning of the year.

Shabtai discussed the efforts of security forces to battle crime in the Negev, and alleged that, “There are those who want to give the impression that the South is on fire. The truth is that the situation today is better than ever – no doubt about it.

“We have four main precincts in the South,” he added, “but you can’t argue with feelings. If a girl goes for a run, for instance, she feels like she’s being watched [by Arabs]. If we’re going to change the way people feel, we need to flood the area with police officers, and the numbers just aren’t there.”

Minister Barlev then addressed the assembled ministers, describing plans to establish urban police stations in nine more Arab towns, and also to assign hundreds of police officers to various Arab communities. “The main change in the past year has been the transition from passively reacting to events, to taking the initiative,” he added.

“We knew that there would be ups and downs along the way,” he continued. “We’ve had great achievements but also disappointments and unfortunate moments, as we witnessed this past weekend. Every act of murder that occurs in Arab society, and every case of violence or shooting, serves as a reminder that we are in the midst of a difficult struggle.”