‘There’s nobody to investigate the murders’ – As killings spike, police face mass resignations

Against background of rising murder rates in Israel’s Arab sector, police contending with wave of investigators looking to leave the force.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Israel’s embattled police force is currently facing a wave of mass resignations by prosecutors and senior officials, as murder rates in the Jewish state continue to rise and the force is the subject of a power struggle between left-wing activists and National Security Minister Itamar-Ben Gvir.

At least 40 police prosecutors and dozens of investigators and detectives have put in formal requests to resign from the force, according to a report from Kan News.

“There is nobody to investigate the murders,” a senior police official told Kan, adding that the force is currently understaffed by some 5,000 officers.

En masse resignations could potentially exacerbate logistical challenges around personnel shortages and the lengthy process for indicting accused murderers.

The police’s low rates of prosecution for murders in the Arab community has come under scrutiny in recent months, but police failures regarding arresting and trying alleged killers in the Jewish sector has also garnered criticism.

However, the officer noted, the prospect of mass resignations is unlikely to actually occur. Resignations must be approved by higher-ups within the police’s central command, and considering current shortages, these requests will likely be rejected.

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While police employees can theoretically leave the force whenever they wish, those seeking early retirement must have their requests approved in order to maintain their pensions and other benefits.

Criticism of Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai and Ben-Gvir has escalated against the backdrop of a spike in murders, but the officer noted that simply adding more police officers to patrol the streets would have little effect on the phenomenon.

The officer told Kan that even if manpower is increased to make arrests, the departments responsible for functions such as investigating and collecting and organizing evidence for criminal trials will remain cripplingly understaffed.

So far in 2023, over 100 members of Israel’s Arab community have been murdered. The police have arrested just 10 alleged perpetrators.

Ben-Gvir is currently battling left-wing NGOs and activists in an ongoing case in the Supreme Court, over the issue of whether his ministry has the authority to make changes to police operational policies and procedures.