With Shin Bet Help, Operation to Curb Crime in Israel's Arab Community Extended

The campaign is targeting 370 prominent criminal figures in the Arab community. 'We’re already seeing results now, but the impact on the citizens will only come later,' a police official says

Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner
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The Israeli Arab city of Umm al-Fahm.
The Israeli Arab city of Umm al-Fahm.Credit: Rami Shllush
Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner

The emergency effort by Israeli law enforcement agencies to halt the crime wave in the country’s Arab community is expected to be extended.

The Israel Police, the Shin Bet security service, the Israeli military and the other agencies involved are expected to continue the operation, which started two months ago, for another several months.

A senior police official described the cooperation that the police have been getting from the Shin Bet as highly effective. Other police brass have said that the effort, which began on October 17, has been producing significant results.

“Its results won’t be seen now,” one senior police official said, but they will be apparent next year. “We’re already seeing results now, but the impact on the citizens will only come later.”

The campaign is targeting 370 figures in the Arab community who are considered sources of criminal activity. The police and the prosecutor’s office have already filed 58 indictments against some of them and have confiscated 82 weapons, 107 luxury vehicles and about 100 million shekels ($32 million).

On the other hand, the situation on the ground is still problematic. Although the rise in the number of homicides in the Arab community has been halted since the beginning of the operation, neither the homicide rate nor the number of shooting incidents have declined.

In practice, the Shin Bet’s major contribution is through intelligence gathering, which is enabling the police to apprehend criminals engaged in weapons-related activities. The Shin Bet has been providing the police with intelligence on targets and has been helping locate criminals who have fled to the West Bank, law enforcement sources said.

When information is missing, the Shin Bet contacts its sources and provides it, a senior police source explained. The Shin Bet isn’t carrying out operations related to criminal enforcement, but it is providing assistance in areas where it is difficult for the police to operate or where the Shin Bet has better access, the source added. “Their part in the operation is very significant.”

The Shin Bet provides assistance in matters involving weapons, in which criminal activity is linked to security-related issues and in cases that involve what was described as “serious governance incidents.”

The Shin Bet official overseeing the agency’s involvement attends joint weekly meetings that are also attended by the head of the Israel Tax Authority, a senior official from the Israeli army’s operations division and representatives from various government ministries.

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