The wave of deadly crimes engulfing the Palestinian community in Israel must be urgently addressed after years of ignorance by Israeli authorities, analysts say.
So far, the Israeli government has neglected the Palestinian sector and, for example, has barely set up police stations in predominantly Palestinian villages and towns. Financial bottlenecks in the police force have often been used as an excuse. Illegal guns, gangs and an extremely high crime rate are the results.
Violence is an extremely serious problem, Ian Lustick, professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, told Al Jazeera.
“Murder is rampant with systematic failures to properly investigate and extremely rare cases of arrests and convictions of perpetrators,” he said.
While the Israeli police to resolve 71% of murders in Jewish communities, only 23% are solved in Palestinian areas.
The Palestinian community, which represents one-fifth of the total population, has suffered a murder rate twice that of Jewish Israelis.
According to statistics, a Palestinian between the ages of 17 and 24 is 21 times more likely to be shot than a Jew of the same age group. For Palestinians over 25, the risk is 36 times higher than for Jewish Israelis.
Yaniv Voller, senior lecturer in Middle Eastern politics at the University of Kent, said the problem of violence in Palestinian society was a long-standing problem, predating the former prime minister’s 12 years in office. Benjamin Netanyahu.
“And all governments have ignored it, mainly because the treatment of violence in Arab countries [Palestinian] society demanded great resources, but also posed another potential for clashes between authorities and Arab citizens, ”Voller told Al Jazeera.
“Although Arab leaders have often called on the government to tackle the problem, they have been unwilling to cooperate with the authorities, especially the police.
As a result, 2020 marked a banner year with 96 Palestinian citizens of Israel. kill.
However, 2021 has already sprayed the previous benchmark. Around 100 Palestinians have been murdered since the start of the year, often in gang wars.
One of the problems is that the Israeli authorities view violence in the Palestinian sector as a security issue, a problem for the Shin Bet intelligence service, not the police, Lustick said.
“Just as all public services are under-provided in the Arab sector – education, sewage, recreation, infrastructure, housing, etc.
However, the problem is not just a lack of resources and neglect, but “more fundamentally, the segregation of Israeli society and the exclusion of Arabs from the real concerns of most government agencies and most Israeli Jews.” Lustick noted.
“On top of that, but related to it, there is the confiscation of huge amounts of land from Palestinians and Palestinian villages and the refusal to approve master plans for construction. These circumstances produce severe overcrowding and high-stakes conflict between families and clans over tiny plots of land.
“Add to that the thousands of collaborators and informants, protected from prosecution, and the weapons they and rival gangs and clans may have access to, and you have a recipe for the bloodshed we are witnessing,” he added.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said a new plan to tackle crime in Palestinian communities is being implemented.
“My government is determined to take action and wage a ceaseless, constant and persistent fight with all force against crime and violence in the Arab sector,” Bennett said in a statement earlier this month.
Calls to involve the Israeli internal security agency Shin Bet, which operates mainly in the West Bank, in solving the problem “is probably not very helpful,” Voller warned.
“The most immediate solution is to spend more money on crime prevention programs, strengthen the police and try to collect weapons, which are commonplace in Arab society. However, this program cannot succeed in the long term without building trust between the authorities and Arab society. No solution is possible without the cooperation of the population with the authorities, whether in terms of enforcement or education, ”he said.
What might help is that the new Israeli government has a common interest in solving the problem.
“The coalition, in all its components, is keen to solve the problem. This includes elements on the right who understand that violence in Arab society does not remain confined to Arab towns and cities. The difference lies mainly in the approach, with right-wing elements pushing for an increased use of law enforcement, including the Shabak and the police, to the detriment of other measures, ”Voller noted.
One of these coalition members is the United Arab List (Ra’am), which is committed to the rights of the Palestinian minority.
“Ra’am is the key to trying to solve the problem of criminal violence in Arab society. Thanks to the negotiations to join the coalition, he has earmarked a budget and his leaders express their vocal support for the government intervention, ”noted Voller.
However, Ra’am alone cannot bring about change, which requires greater collaboration with local Palestinian authorities, and many do not support Ra’am, Voller said.
What is also likely to be problematic is that the police, like the military, symbolize Zionist state power, which many Palestinians do not want to identify with for political and ethnic reasons.
“The level of mutual trust is low at the moment. However, the point is that Arab citizens and political leaders are protesting the government’s inaction, which means they still have expectations and hope the situation can change. It is here, by restoring confidence, that Ra’am can come into the picture, ”said Voller.