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Israel’s Netanyahu says to fight crime within Arab community

June 11, 2023 at 4:45 pm

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem [ABIR SULTAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he plans to seek the help of the domestic intelligence service Shin Bet to combat crime within the Arab community in Israel, Anadolu reports.

‘We are determined to fight the criminal phenomenon of murder in Arab society, first and foremost in the head of the snake – in the criminal organizations,’ Netanyahu said during a cabinet meeting.

The Israeli premier said his government has allocated a huge budget for the police ‘to hire thousands of officers and to establish the National Guard.’

‘This requires time,’ he added. ‘We do not have time, as murders in the Arab community have turned into a scourge of the state.’

On Saturday, Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid called for the dismissal of far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir against the backdrop of the rising murder rates within the Arab community since he assumed office.

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‘Netanyahu must fire Ben-Gvir,’ he said in a statement. “His only experience in the field is as a convicted felon, and he has no idea what he is doing. Since he became a minister, the number of murdered people has increased by 300%,” he added.

Ahmed Tibi, an Arab member of the Knesset (Israel’s parliament), told Anadolu in May that the wave of crime in Israel’s Arab community ‘is exacerbated by the complicity of the Israeli police, as it allows weapons to be smuggled from army bases to Arab towns.’

According to the latest official data, Israel’s Arab population is estimated at 2.048 million, constituting 21% of the country’s total population of 9.7 million.

The number of homicides has reached 102 in 2023, up from only 34 during the same period in 2022, according to Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

Ben-Gvir took office as national security minister in Netanyahu’s government in December 2022.

Ben-Gvir holds far-right views on the Palestinians and has called for their displacement. He has repeatedly joined Israeli settlers in storming the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque complex in occupied East Jerusalem.

In November 2022, Israeli President Isaac Herzog warned in a leaked audio that “the whole world is worried” about Ben-Gvir’s far-right views.

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