Israel's Police Chief to Settlers: Fixing Your Cars at Palestinian Garages Abets Crime

'It’s true that this is a population that prefers to get its cars fixed cheaply,' Roni Alsheich said of settlers whom he urged not to turn to Palestinian car mechanics

Israeli police chief Roni Alshiech
Olivier Fitoussi

Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich recently asked residents of a West Bank settlement not to get their cars serviced at Palestinian garages, warning that doing so encourages crime in Israel.

In his appeal to rabbis from the ultra-Orthodox settlement of Modi’in Ilit, Alsheich claimed that Palestinian garages do repairs by using parts from cars that were stolen in Israel. Thus, by taking their cars to Palestinian garages, he said, residents are effectively encouraging car theft within Israel and “an alternative black-market economy that creates demand for crime.”

He therefore asked the rabbis to urge residents not to take their cars to Palestinian garages. He said they should particularly avoid the Palestinian villages of Nilin and Dir Kadis, some of whose residents earn their living by working in garages near the settlement’s major access roads.

“It’s true that this is a population that prefers to get its cars fixed cheaply,” Alsheich told reporters on Tuesday, referring to Modi’in Ilit residents. “But it’s important for people to understand the meaning of going to such a garage. Most cars in Israel are stolen today not for the car itself, but for its parts. So the very fact of going to such a garage, in which it’s clear to us where its parts come from, contributes to crime.”

Alsheich, who was speaking at a Border Police base outside Jerusalem, added that car theft within Israel fell by 17 percent last year.

He addressed the issue because the Border Police have been engaged since last weekend in a large-scale operation to arrest both Palestinians who are in Israeli illegally and others engaged in crime in the West Bank. Among other targets, they raided three car junk yards in the villages of Yamoun and Dahariya, where they found four cars, 12 motorcycles and dozens of motors and motor parts that they claim are part of the stolen-parts industry in the West Bank.

An earlier version of this article included a photo illustration of "The Gush" auto-shop. We apologize for its publication and make clear this auto-shop is not related to the contents of the article