רצח בלוד
רצח בלוד Murder in Lod

“We are losing the country,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said during the recent weekly cabinet meeting, and he is right.

For many years, if not decades, Israel saw external threats against it. While there has always been an active Arab Israeli extremist threat on the margins of the community, it wasn’t seen as an existential worry.

Unfortunately, what is happening in the Negev and parts of the north of the country with ever increasing banditry and lawlessness is becoming a very real threat. Parts of the country are becoming no go areas for peaceful civilians and law enforcement, similar in nature to Islamist-ruled areas of Europe.

According to numbers tallied by the Abraham Initiatives nonprofit, 88 Arab and Druze Israelis have been killed in murderous attacks in Israel so far this year. This year’s total is set to surpass the number of 96 Arab Israelis murdered last year in communal violence, by far the highest annual toll in recent memory.

Nonetheless, the situation is even worse than the numbers dictate. Guns and other weapons are becoming more and more rampant in the Arab sector of Israel.

According to statistics from last year, weapons-related arrests by Israel Police increased by about 22% in 2020 compared to 2019, with 90% of the arrested suspects coming from the Arab-Israeli community.

This violence is mainly directed at intra-Arab clan squabbles and mafia hits, but the lawlessness should be seen as going far beyond. In the south in particular, towns and cities are being terrorized by stray bullets for internecine battles, regular burglaries and harassment of women.

As Fadi Maklada, from the northern Druze town of Daliyat al-Karmel, said: “there is a real escalation that goes beyond Arab society, it is already harming national security.”

Since its inception, the Israel Victory Project has primarily focused on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, pressing for government policy that would ensure the Palestinian Arabs give up their over-100 years goal of destroying Jewish sovereignty.

However, it can also be used internally.

This wave of violence is turning into a conflict, just like any other, and so the instruments to defeat it can also be adopted.

Anyone caught with an illegal firearm should receive a much harsher punishment, many times its current sentence, while those members of a household where a gun is found should be penalized with very high fines, ensuring that other family members will not be prepared to take the risk.

Towns and villages which see regular escalation should have some or all of their amenities switched off until the violence ends. This is a strong punishment, especially for those who are not involved, but it could be necessary short-term suffering to make their streets safe again.

The streets of these areas need to be patrolled regularly, even if it means calling up the reserves, as Israel would do during an operation in Gaza or on its northern border. Only an overwhelming presence, and painstaking searches of every house, will end the illegal firearms threat.

There needs to be a zero-tolerance approach and overwhelming force used against those who feel and act with impunity.

According to media reports and interviews, many of the peaceful Arab residents of these areas would welcome such harsh action, because they know better than anyone the cost of continuing the violence. They bear the brunt of it more than others.

In fact, there should be a positive incentive for those who want to see the crime erased permanently. It is clear that at least parts of the problem are because of a lack of attention by Israeli authorities to some of these areas. With neglect comes a vacuum, and criminal activities invariably fills it.

Once the criminals have been largely defeated, and their will to carry on their criminal behavior broken by a series of punitive measures, Israel should ensure that there is no interest in a return to violence by massively investing in education, employment options and housing in these areas.

Not only is it vital that the State of Israel assert its full authority and sovereignty over every inch of its territory, but it should also send a very clear message that good behavior will be rewarded, and bad behavior punished.

Perhaps this carrot and stick approach might also be seen by the Palestinian Authortiy Arabs and convince them that there is far more to gain by ending their conflict as well.

Alex Nachumson is an IDF Military Commander (Res) and CEO of Mivtachi Israel, an organization of former senior IDF Officers.


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