After 11 Murders in a Year, Israeli Arab City Presents Plan to Halt Violence

The Arab city's mayor proposes bolstering police force and installing security cameras, as Joint List chairman accuses plan of not addressing short-term issues

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The scene of a murder of a 51-year-old man in Umm al-Fahm in December.
The scene of a murder of a 51-year-old man in Umm al-Fahm in December. Credit: פאדי אמון
Deiaa Haj Yahia
Deiaa Haj Yahia

The Umm al-Fahm Municipality presented an emergency plan on Sunday to reduce crime and violence and to bolster the personal security of its residents after 11 people were murdered in the Israeli Arab city last year.   

Mayor Samir Mahameed said the plan is also intended to tackle the deep-seated social, educational and infrastructure problems that engender the violence. It is sponsored by the city, along with the Inclusion Initiative, a social policy organization.

The plan also includes doubling Umm al-Fahm's police force and installing cameras throughout the city.

Last year, the scope of violence in Umm al-Fahm reached a bloody peak. One of the causes for this violence is blood feuds, and the plan presented by Mahameed includes the establishment of a sulha, or reconciliation, committee for mediating the conflicts between local residents.

Deputy Public Security Minister Yoav Segalovitz also participated in the plan's presentation and promised to support it. To reduce violence in the Arab community, the law enforcement system needs to deal with the “economic engine” of organized crime groups, he said. “The criminals and organizations need to understand that the rules have changed,” and that the government is going to come down hard on them, added Segalovitz.

But according to lawmaker Ayman Odeh, the chairman of the Arab-majority Joint List party, the plan does little to solve the problem as it stands, instead focusing on the long term. “The plan does not provide an immediate answer to residents and will not prevent the next murder," Odeh said.

"It does not involve collecting the illegal weapons in the city, and the issue of illegal weapons is the most burning issue in Arab society today, because they are the tools for murder.”

“Nothing justifies a blood feud,” Odeh went on to say. “But when people see the person who murdered their son still free, it makes their blood boil. Whoever wants to defeat the violence and revenge must arrest the murderers and bring them to justice.”

In response to the criticism, Mahameed said that“Anyone who looks at the plan in depth can see it relates to the short term and the long term. There are things that are not dependent on us as a municipality, but when you talk about education and at-risk youths, about sports and culture, it is also for the short term.” 

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