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Crime Wave Swells

Times of Israel, August 23rd, 2023


Recap:

Four people were killed in a northern Arab Israeli town, bringing the number of 2023 fatalities in Israel’s Arab community to 156. 68 were killed during the same time frame last year.


The Context:

· A record crime wave in the Arab community hit a new peak following a quadruple murder carried out in Abu Snan. Among the victims was a mayoral candidate and three IDF reservists [1]. The four men were gunned down in an olive grove outside the village. The shooting came hours after a 30-year-old Arab Israeli was seriously wounded in Rahat.

· All four victims belonged to Israel’s Druze minority. Druze leaders announced a strike and placed the blame for the surging crime wave entirely on the Israeli police and government, accusing both of fighting crime in Jewish cities while neglecting other communities. The Shin Bet security agency has joined the investigation into the latest killings [2].

· National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir came under fire since his campaign focused on establishing law and order across all sectors of Israeli society; however, his actions have instead exacerbated the estrangement of Israel’s Arab minority. This month, Ben Gvir's coalition colleague, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, opted to suspend funds to Arab towns [3]. He justified the move by citing an excess of caution to prevent misappropriation of funds. His critics argue that the decision was a calculated maneuver aimed at deepening the Israeli-Arab divide.

· Decades ago, Israel saw a surge in Jewish organized crime, primarily centered in cities like Netanya and Ashdod. After a vigorous crackdown, the issue was eventually mitigated. Arab crime syndicates have since filled the void and police warn that violence could overflow to the rest of Israeli society [4].


Conversation Points:

· Would there be a different response if similar incidents took place in Jewish communities?

· Can a populist politician who ran on a racist platform be expected to sincerely govern Israel’s minorities?

· Are Israeli Arabs viewed as second class citizens?

· Why does Israel have the capability to confront formidable adversaries like Iran, Syria, and Lebanon, yet struggle to ensure the safety of its own citizens?


Notes:

3. Ben-Gvir under fire after quadruple murder in Israeli Arab sector, JERUSALEM POST STAFF, TROY O. FRITZHAND, AUGUST 23, 2023




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