Over a third of Israelis fear for their personal security, a new poll has revealed. This is three times the number of Israelis who are worried about threats from beyond the country's borders. The poll, conducted by the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), was published in Israel Hayom on Thursday.
"Israel is swiftly turning into a violent country," Brigadier-General (Res.) Dr. Meir Elran, director of the Institute's internal affairs department, commented on the poll's results.
According to Elran, "We aren't there yet, certainly not on the scale of the United States, but incidents of serious violence, of bullying, are becoming more and more widespread. It wasn't in our lexicon in the past, certainly not to such a great degree, but now it's standard."
Violence in the Arab sector is far more of a problem than in the Jewish sector. Police data from the past year that has yet to be published shows that while Arabs make up only 21% of Israel's population, they are involved in 41% of crimes in general.
Broken down into categories, Arabs were responsible for 47% of reported murders, 60% of property crimes, and around 36% of robberies. In addition, 86% of weapons-related crimes were committed by Arabs.
"Israel Police hardly addresses the problem," says retired Deputy Commissioner Zohar Dvir, who served as the commander of the Police's Northern District. "At the beginning of the 90s, Israel had 4.5 million residents. Today, there are more than double, 9.5 million. Despite this huge increase, the police force only grew by 20 percent during this period."
Incoming National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has vowed to upgrade the police force and intends to pass comprehensive legislation to this end. Experts, however, stress that changes will take time to implement, adding that not everything can be enforced, and that education and welfare programs are needed as well.
Outgoing Public Security Minister, Omer Barlev, says that Ben-Gvir is part of the problem: "More and more Israelis are convinced that you can solve problems with force. That's the message of Otzma Yehudit, and unfortunately, that's what they're convincing the public. Ben-Gvir isn't at fault for everything but there's a chicken and an egg situation here that has snowballed."