Israel’s Police Commissioner has been recorded saying that Arabs “murder each other” and that “it’s in their nature”, as the apartheid state sees rising racism amid the most right-wing government in its history.
According to Israel’s Channel 12, Police Commissioner, Kobi Shabtai, had a private meeting with National Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, in which they discussed the recent murder of an Israeli-Arab and the crime within the country’s Palestinian community.
In leaked recordings of the meeting, Ben-Gvir was heard as saying “Another murder and another murder – this crosses the line. We need a strong national guard”, referring to the controversial ruling that the Minister can lead his own private militia, which has sparked concerns that it would be used to further persecute Palestinians and quash dissenting Israelis.
Shabtai then responded by claiming that “There’s nothing we can do. They murder each other. It’s in their nature. That’s the mentality of the Arabs.” Ben-Gvir insisted that “it can be stopped. We need to prevent the murders of both Arabs and Jews”, to which the Police Commissioner said, “We are working in Ramla and Lod [Jewish-Palestinian mixed cities]. We spoke with dignitaries in the Arab community and are trying to calm the situation.”
Following the leaking of the recording, Israel’s police stated that they are “amazed that the Minister and his office are recording personal conversations between the Minister and the Commissioner.” The police expressed their “outrage that things were taken out of context in a conversation that dealt with behavioural patterns in an Arab [Palestinian] community that does not reveal the identity of the killers, even when it is known to the relatives of the victims.”
They added that the leaked recording “calls into question the ability of the police to report to the Minister without fearing the disclosure of sources and the distortion of conversations.”
The leaks and Shabtai’s comments come as data has revealed that there is a significant disproportion between the Israeli police’s dealings with crimes in the Jewish Israeli community compared to the Palestinian community in Israel, with the police only solving two out of 42 murder cases in the latter since the beginning of 2023, while solving over 83 per cent of murders in the former. In the majority of murder cases in the Palestinian community, the police reportedly do not capture the murderers or even arrest suspects.
In response to the Police Commissioner’s comments, the Hadash-Ta’al list’s Chairman, Ayman Odeh, called on the Police Chief to resign, stating that the “number of Palestinians killed in Israel is 7 times more than the number of Palestinians killed in the West Bank, Gaza and Jordan, as a result of the crime. It’s not in the nature of the Palestinians [to murder]; it’s in the nature of the racist establishment … anywhere in the world, a racist commissioner like Shabtai would be fired in an instant.”
Waleed Alhwashla, a representative in the United Arab List, also stated that Shabtai’s comments are an “escape from responsibility and a surrender to crime”, adding that he is “descending into the abyss of racism and prejudice, and this is without regard to the fact that the statement, in itself, is a form of embezzlement.”
The recording of the private meeting and the revelation of Shabtai’s comments come especially at a time when there is increasing opposition by current and former senior police officials to the establishment of the National Guard, particularly if led by Ben-Gvir, instead of the police. Shabtai himself yesterday warned that its establishment “will lead to the collapse of the police force in addition to harming the security of Israelis”.