Shin Bet Probed Shooting at Arab Police Official's Home, Minister Says

The security service investigated the shooting at the home of Maj. Gen. Jamal Hakrush, the head of the unit for fighting crime in the Arab community, because he is 'a symbol of the government,' Bar-Lev says

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Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev in a Labor Party meeting in October.
Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev in a Labor Party meeting in October.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Adi Hashmonai

Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev said on Tuesday that the Shin Bet security service was involved in investigating the shooting at the home of police Maj. Gen. Jamal Hakrush, the head of the department for fighting crime in the Arab community.

"The attorney general decides when to involve the Shin Bet and when not to," Bar-Lev said at a Kibbutz Movement conference. "In the example of the shooting at the home of Maj. Gen. Jamal Hakrush, it was a case of harming a symbol of the government, and therefore there was a joint investigation by the police and the Shin Bet."

Two men from northern Israel were charged last week for shooting at Hakrush's home in September. According to the indictment, 33-year-old lawyer Osama Khatib from Kafr Kana shot at the home out of "anger" because he felt Hakrush had interfered in family disputes in the town against the interests of his family. Hakrush denies the claim.

On September 10, Khatib arrived at the police chief's home in Kafr Kana in the car of the second suspect, Mohammed Abu Samara from Haifa. The indictment then says that Khatib fired five bullets from an M-16 rifle at the parking spaces, which passed over the top of Hakrush’s car while he and his wife were in their home. After the shooting, Khatib gave Abu Samara $2,000. The two are charged with weapons violations, shooting a firearm and obstruction of justice. 

Bar-Lev also said that there is major overlap between anti-state nationalist violence – which is within the Shin Bet's purview – and crime. "We saw this during Operation Guardian of the Walls as well," he said of the riots in Israel during the fighting in Gaza in the spring.

"There could be a scenario of a war in the north, which demands transferring a military division to the north, and the forces being blocked in Wadi Ara and delayed for 24 hours," he said. "Therefore, we are working with the military to establish a joint Border Police brigade, and there will be a continuous IDF brigade as well."

The involvement of the Shin Bet in crime-related matters has stoked controversy with the Arab community in Israel, with civil society organizations viewing the step as a bid to curb their rights and freedoms.

In October, the Shin Bet announced it would establish a team to determine the organization's involvement in fighting crime in Arab communities.

The team will decide which criminal offenses the agency can act against, as determined by the Shin Bet law. The team, which will be headed by a senior Shin Bet official, will also facilitate cooperation with the police.

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