Arson in Lod
Arson in Lod Avi Shimshi

Lod mayor Yair Rebibo has expressed his frustration with the rising crime rate in the Arab sector of his city, and has condemned the government for failing to take action to address it.

“The situation is awful,” he told Radio 103FM on Tuesday. “I have basically lost hope – but there’s always the chance the government will wake up and recognize the extent of the problem.

“There’s not a single part of the country where Arabs don’t have ‘protection,’ he added. “Let them call me a racist as much as they like – but Jewish criminals have at least some compassion. Arab criminals have none whatsoever. They are quite capable of killing a person while his young son stands and watches. This coronavirus epidemic will eventually pass, but the problem of Arab crime will remain.”

Yesterday was a “bloody” day in the history of Lod, with several gang-related hits. Saliman a-Zabarka was shot dead in the local industrial zone, and just a few hours later, 15-year-old Omar abu-Seluk was killed on Highway 6, after his family decided to remove him from the city due to the ongoing tensions there.

Meanwhile, the head of the New Hope party, former Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar, vowed to address the issue of organized Arab crime if and when he merits to head a new government following next March’s elections.

“There is tribal gang warfare going on in Lod,” he wrote this morning. “A 15-year-old boy was killed in broad daylight on Highway 6, in a car that was accompanied by a police vehicle no less. Two minutes away from Ben Gurion airport and it’s like another country, with no security, no government, no law and order. In the south, in the center of the country, and in the north, there are extra-territorial regions where the rule of law doesn’t reach. Illegal weapons are sold as freely as candy, and private homes keep ammunitions stores. Children and youths wander around armed – and what does the government do? Nothing.”

Focusing his criticism on Prime Minister Netanyahu and Internal Security Minister Amir Ohana for failing to deter crime with harsher policies and punishments, Sa’ar said that “the Prime Minister suffices with making a guest appearance at a Zoom conference headed by [Raam Party head MK] Mansour Abbas. And who suffers? Arab citizens. The number of crime victims has broken all records. But Netanyahu and Ohana apparently have more important things to busy themselves with than providing security, law, and order to the country’s citizens.”

Under his leadership, Sa’ar asserted, the government would pass new legislation applying minimum sentencing guidelines for those trading in or found in possession of illegal weapons. He added that his government would launch a massive program to confiscate illegal weapons as well.

“A government led by New Hope will declare war on organized crime in the Arab sector,” Sa’ar wrote. “It will pass a law that I myself proposed in the past – and that Netanyahu and [Justice Minister Avi] Nissenkorn vetoed – to apply minimum sentencing guidelines to trading in and possession of illegal weapons.

“What we intend to do is restore effective sovereignty to every part of the State of Israel,” he added. “We will concern ourselves with the safety and welfare of every single citizen, and transform despair into ‘new hope.’”