Arab Citizens Involved in 59 Percent of Murders in Israel

Rate is nearly triple Arabs' share in population.

A murder scene in Ramle.
David Bachar

Arabs were involved in 59 percent of the murders in Israel in 2015, almost three times their share in the population (21 percent).

In the year to date, 26 Arabs have been murdered. The most recent murder indictment was issued on Thursday, against a man from Shfaram who allegedly stabbed a next-door neighbor in her bed.
Most of the murders took place within Arab-majority towns; guns were the most common murder weapon. Arabs also committed other offenses at a disproportionately high rate, accounting for 55 percent of attempted murders, 47 percent of robberies, 58 percent of arson incidents, 32 percent of thefts and property damage incidents and 27 percent of drug trafficking cases.

The Israel Police figures were presented on at a conference on Friday in Baka al-Garbiyeh organized by the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee and focusing on combating crime in Israel’s Arab community. Speakers at the conference, which will be held on the campus of the Al-Qasemi Academic College of Education, will examine various causes of the high incidence of crime in Israeli Arab society and propose was to reduce it.

According to the Aman Center, the Arab Center for a Safe Society, 1,029 Israeli Arabs have been murdered since October 2000.

“The figures speak for themselves and prove we’re on a slippery slope to internal collapse,” said former Knesset member Taleb A-Sana, who heads the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee panel on violence.

The chairman of the monitoring committee, former MK and Hadash party leader Mohammad Barakeh, said that discrimination against Arabs in Israel helps encourage violence, but added: “Our responsibility as a society cannot be discounted, both on the leadership level and in terms of the norms and education at home and in the family.”

Nohad Ali, a sociologist from the University of Haifa and Western Galilee College, said that bringing down the murder rate starts with reducing overall lawlessness in Israeli Arab society.

“We have to start small, for example by curbing reckless driving, the practice of blocking roads for a wedding or carrying out practical jokes on private property,” he said, adding that this would reduce the incidence of more serious crime.

Samah Salaime Egbariya, a social worker and one of the conference organizers, said the police either ignore problems in Arab families or overdo things, like occupying and sealing hermetically entire villages to induce residents to pressure the offenders.

“What we need is appropriate police work for the various communities’ needs. Swift, firm action in case of shooting and more effective performance in solving murder cases. Only performance will raise the confidence in the establishment,” she said.

Conference participants will also discuss models for fighting violence from other places in the world. According to the Irish model, for example, joint committees must be set up, consisting of local police and community representatives.

The conference will also deal with advancing more flexible and transparent police work with the community, police training and greater Arab representation in police ranks.