Israeli Police to Boost Number of Security Cameras in Two Mixed Arab-Jewish Cities

Israel approves a $780-million plan to fight crime in Arab communities, as well as an economic plan to reduce inequality between Jews and Arabs

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A Police vehicle in Lod, in August.
A Police vehicle in Lod, in August.Credit: Ilan Assayag

Israel Police will add a large number of security cameras throughout the mixed Arab-Jewish cities of Lod and Acre with next year – similarly to the situation in the Old City of Jerusalem – as part of a plan to fight crime in Arab communities.

The plan was approved by the cabinet on Sunday at its weekly meeting.

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The cameras will be installed in part because of the fear of further Jewish-Arab violence in these cities, too, said Tomer Lotan, the director general of the Public Security Ministry. The police also plan to establish command centers from which they can control the cameras and operate drones.

“This pilot will allow a preliminary response for the mixed cities, along with reinforcing the Border Police’s operations,” added Lotan. “The recommendations are the operative guarantee in cases where the crimes spill over into the nationalist area.”

The national plan for fighting crime in the Arab community is supposed to be enacted in 2022-2026, and has been allocated 2.5 billion shekels ($780 million). The plan is based on increased enforcement, strengthening local authorities and providing tools to young Arabs who are not regularly employed or studying, said the Prime Minister’s Office.

The plan's stated goals include dismantling criminal organizations; reducing crime and violence in the Arab community, significantly reducing the number of illegal weapons held by citizens in the Arab community, and increasing the confidence of the Arab public in the law enforcement system.

At the same meeting, the cabinet also approved an economic plan to reduce inequality in Arab society, which will cost approximately 30 billion shekels over 2022-2026. The plan is supposed to boost professional training, provide Hebrew-language schools to encourage integration into the job market, and expand daycare to encourage Arab women to enter the workforce.

The plan also aims to increase the number of Arab students who receive a high school matriculation certificate, including in the most advanced levels of math, English and computer science, and increase the numbers of those working in high-tech professions.

In addition, the cabinet plans to promote the construction of up to 9,000 new homes in Arab communities by 2026, upgrade infrastructure in them and build public institutions, such as after-school clubs, community centers and HMO clinics, as well as reduce the inequality in health services between Jewish and Arab communities.

At the beginning of the cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said: “This is not a one-sided task, this is not just a task of the government, but rather it is a common goal of the Israeli government together with the Arab public. The state will do its part, but the Arab street must be all in as well. It will not be easy, but we must succeed.”

Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev said: "The decision that we made today is unprecedented and indicates that it is clear to the entire government that the violence and the crime on the Arab street constitute a threat to the State of Israel. The crime families in the Arab population are holding the Arab population by the throat.

“While most of the operative burden will be laid at the feet of the Public Security Ministry, this decision involves the entire government via the many mechanisms we will establish for this important goal. This is a five-year plan but if the slowing down and reduction do not start to occur in 2022, they will not occur afterwards. Therefore, the test for us all will be in 2022 – and we will succeed," said Bar-Lev.

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