Israel's State Prosecutor Says Can't Fight Crime Without Help From 'Law-abiding Arab Citizens'

'Without witnesses, there are no cases,' says Amit Aisman, adding that the trust of the Arab public in the legal system is necessary to curb soaring crime rates

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State Prosecutor Amit Aisman speaks at a law conference at the University of Haifa, on Thursday.
State Prosecutor Amit Aisman speaks at a law conference at the University of Haifa, on Thursday.Credit: Rami Shllush
Chen Maanit
Chen Maanit

Israel's State Prosecutor Amit Aisman said on Monday that his office needs the help of Arab citizens in the fight against crime in the Arab community, suggesting it can't work without "cooperation from law-abiding Arab citizens."

"Without witnesses, there are no cases," Aisman said at a legal conference held at the University of Haifa. "We all need to take responsibility."

The Arab community lost more than 100 people this year alone from crime-related and gun violence. Last month, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned of the consequences of the spike in violence, as the cabinet voted to expand police search powers to fight the violence.

Aisman stressed the need for equal treatment by legal system, which would be translated into greater trust in it by Arab citizens. “Public trust is needed to lead major law enforcement steps," Aisman said. "The help of members of the Arab community is needed for the police to gather evidence against the criminals. In the second stage, help is needed when an indictment is filed against the criminals. Our request is to join hands together, law-abiding citizens with law enforcement bodies.”

A billboard in the northern city of Umm al-Fahm, during a demonstration against organized crime and intercommunal violence, in March.Credit: AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP

Aisman also said the State Prosecutor’s Office intends to strike the “economic infrastructure of criminal organizations,” including seizing their funds. The civil affairs department in his office is taking action against criminal groups and businesses that operate without a business license while violating tax, planning and building laws. The department is also taking aim at businesses that cause environmental damage.

Israel Bar Association head Avi Himi said the proposal to expand the authority of police officers and allow them to conduct searches without warrants may not have the intended effect. “Distributing draft versions of a law, legislating laws and imposing regulations, are the easy part. When the legislative fog dissipates, we discover that a law supposedly meant to lead to change, is useless, turns out to be a gimmick in the best case and as media ‘spin’ in the less good case,” said Himi.

“A real solution to the problem and implementation of governability over all of the country’s citizens will be found only through allocating equal and corrective resources within Israeli society.”

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