Israel Police Report Decline in Crimes Committed by Foreign Nationals

Josh Breiner
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Israeli police enforce coronavirus restrictions in the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv, March 2020.
Israeli police enforce coronavirus restrictions in the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv, March 2020. Credit: Meged Gozani
Josh Breiner

Crimes committed by foreign citizens in Israel declined in 2019 by nearly 10 percent, and are on a downward trend for the first time in five years. The figures were publicized in the context of the Israel Police annual report, which indicates that last year there was a significant drop in crimes by foreigners. The report defined foreigners as suspects who are not Jews or Palestinians, such as "tourists, migrant workers and infiltrators," the last category referring to asylum seekers.

According to the police, 3,576 files were opened against foreigners in 2019, compared to 3,946 in 2018. Most of the files were opened in the Tel Aviv District, which has the largest number of cases of crimes committed by foreigners - 44 percent of all such files. Most of these files are for crimes of violence, disorderly conduct and crimes against property.

Since assuming his position two weeks ago, Public Security Minister Amir Ohana has already twice visited the police station in south Tel Aviv, where most asylum seekers in the region live. Ohana met with deportation activists and wrote on his Facebook page that "The lives of the residents of the neighborhoods in the south [of Tel Aviv] have become far more difficult in recent years due to the phenomenon of the concentration of the infiltration." Since his visit, the police have intensified their activity in the area.

Along with the figure concerning crimes committed by foreigners, the police statistics showed a sharp decline of 29.7 percent in files which are opened without a complainant at the initiative of the police. In 2018, 72,287 so-called "exposure files" were opened, and in 2019 only 62,384. According to the police, the decline is a result of the transition in April 2019 to administrative enforcement for the personal use of cannabis.

In effect, the figures reveal that throughout the years, about 10,000 police "exposure files" were opened for the purpose of enforcement of private consumptions of cannabis. "There has been a significant reduction in the number of criminal files for using dangerous drugs, relative to the years before the law came into effect," according to the report.

Another significant index in the report notes a continued downward trend in the number of arrests. However, in the wake of the latest State Comptroller's Report, which revealed that in effect the police fail to report on tens of thousands of arrests made every year, it is impossible to draw conclusions from the figure that appears in the police report.

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