Middle East Monitor / September 27, 2021
Israeli police officers have been accused of working in league with crime lords and not caring about the death of Palestinians as anger grows over their failure to get to grips with gun crime in mainly Arab towns within the occupation state. At least 93 people have been the victim of gun violence since the start of 2021.
Victims’ families and activists have begun to speak out and direct their frustration at the Israeli police. They claim that the killing of Palestinians in Arab cities is a very low priority, and if the police took the death of Palestinians as seriously as prison breaks they could very easily arrest those responsible for the killings.
“The gangs are in control of the streets, and they control what goes on in the city, selling drugs and terrorizing residents,” Kifah Agbaria is reported saying in The Jerusalem Post. “Every hour, you hear shooting and people acting crazy, and nobody is doing anything about it.” She has lost a brother and three relatives to street violence in the past two years,
The police still have no leads in any of the cases and have given no indication that they are taking it seriously. “I yelled at them, ‘You have security cameras everywhere on the streets,’ and said they were lying,” explains Agbaria. “Two days later, the investigator was removed from the case. The police have still not called, and they don’t care at all.”
Agbaria’s frustration is echoed by Dr Warda Sada, an educator and social activist living in Jerusalem. “Killings in our community are police officers’ lowest priority,” she said. “Police say all the time that they are unable to find suspects for our murders. But when prisoners broke out of the Gilboa Prison this month, they were able to find and capture everyone quickly, even though they had to go into Jenin.”
Sada suspects that some police officers may work in league with crime lords. “We have seen that whenever we call the police after a crime, they come only after the criminals have had enough time to cover their tracks. We have always felt that the gangs must be working together with members of the police. We want them to work seriously to clean up the crime in our communities.”
A report published last month revealed that Palestinian men in Israel are 36 times more likely to be victims of gun violence than Jewish Israeli citizens. Gun crime has been rising steadily since 2017 when 1,733 Palestinians were shot compared with 267 Jewish Israeli victims. By 2020 those figures had climbed significantly to 2,983 Palestinians and 397 Jews.
Palestinian leaders within Israel have long protested against this growing trend. In March, former member of the Israeli Knesset Yousef Jabareen, a resident of Umm al-Fahm, said, “Arabs are crying out for a gun-free society.” He denounced Israel’s double standards when it comes to dealing with violence that affects Palestinians disproportionally.