Bennett calls on Arab-Israelis to stand with Israel in fighting crime

Bennett chaired a cross-ministerial meeting on violence in the Arab sector, saying the situation had “reached a red line.” 

By Donna Rachel Edmunds, World Israel News

Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has called upon Arab-Israelis to stand with the State of Israel in fighting violent crime within their communities, saying the situation had “reached the red line.”

On Sunday, Bennett chaired a meeting of the inter-ministerial working team on fighting crime and violence in the Arab sector, headed by the Deputy Public Security Minister, former Israel Police major general Yoav Segalovitz.

“A state within a state has developed here over the years,” Bennett said in a statement following the meeting, adding: “I think that we are all now aware of this. Dealing with this magnitude will not take a day or two but we are on it. We are taking action and will continue to do so.”

Indicating that Segalovitz had the government’s full backing to tackle crime and illegal weapon use in the Arab sector, Bennet said: “The state is now mobilizing to protect Arab citizens from the blight of crime and illegal weapons, and from murder and protection rackets. This will take considerable time, effort and resources.

“And while the state is mobilizing, the Arab public must understand that the security forces are not the enemy – they are the solution. Do not accuse the state; rather, go with it hand in hand.

“I expect the Arab public to cooperate fully in the war against crime and violence in the Arab sector.”

The meeting follows a violent attack on two Israel Police officers in the Israeli Arab town of Kafr Qassem in the early hours of Friday morning. Video footage of the incident shows the officers being punched and grabbed by young men as they attempt to arrest an individual who is reported by Israel Police to be wanted in connection with an earlier attack.

Bennett commented on the incident on Saturday, saying, “I stand alongside the police officers who were violently attacked in Kafr Qassem. Violence in the Arab sector has reached an intolerable point.”

His statement on Sunday also included a reference to the incident.

“It is important to mention, also following the attack on police officers in Kafr Qassem over the weekend, that I expect the Arab public – elected representatives, Arab public figures, media personalities from the Arab sector and others – to stand behind the police and the security forces. And yes, the entire Arab public needs to stand behind the state,” he said.

Commenting on the Kafr Qassem incident, Israel Police Commissioner Maj. Gen. Yaakov Shabtai said that such attacks would not be permitted to become “the order of the day.”

“I have instructed the district command of the area to act decisively and firmly and lay hands on anyone who took part in the incident, and we will provide them with all the means and forces required,” Shabtai said.

Six ministers attended the cross-ministerial meeting on Sunday including the Ministers of the Interior, Justice, and Public Security. In addition, the Attorney General, the Director of the National Security Council, and the Inspector General of the Israel Police were also present, along with a number of other officials.