The Israeli army will not be involved in collecting illegal weapons from the Arab communities in Israel, the Minister of Internal Security, Omer Bar-Lev, said today.
Denying reports which had been circulating, Bar Lev wrote on Twitter: "Clarification for what was published in a number of media outlets about the discussion with the ministerial team for the fight against crime on Arab Street last night. During all 3 hours of the hearing, the word IDF [army] was mentioned only in the context of the theft of weapons from its bases and their prevention."
Speaking to Channel 12 TV, one security source who attended last night's meeting said: "No one has spoken and no one has consulted with the Israeli army or the Ministry of Security in this regard. Soldiers cannot and do not have the powers of the police to make arrests or searches."
This comes after reports that Israel's intelligence services, Shin Bet, and the army would be allocated a limited role in combating the rising crime rates among the Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's office announced yesterday that they will join efforts to deal with illegal weapons in the Arab community.
The situation regarding violence in the Arab sector has reached a red line," he told the gathering at his office. "The problem was pushed aside and neglected for years until it reached outrageous proportions, as we have seen over the past year."
"Our government is taking the issue very seriously," he added, noting the establishment of an "inter-ministerial working team" headed by Yoav Segalovitz, the deputy public security minister and a retired major-general.
However, the Arab mayors' group called the move "a bad decision, which results from viewing the Arab population as a security threat rather than Israeli citizens with equal rights who are in a situation of distress," according to Haaretz.
"When a crime wave rages from crime families in the Jewish community, the government never for a moment considers using such means" to suppress it, the group added.
Palestinian citizens of Israel – those who remained during the Nakba – make up 20 per cent of the country's population.