Photo courtesy of Israel Police Facebook

The National Committee of Heads of Arab Local Authorities in Israel has set up a tent in Jerusalem outside of the Prime Minister’s Office to protest rising crime in the Arab sector and police inaction to combat the growing number of murders. As of last Monday night, 91 people had been murdered in Arab communities this year compared with 34 at the same time last year. In 2022, the total number of murders came to 116.

The leaders of the Arab community and their Jewish supporters who gathered in the protest tent blame police indifference for the spike in crime. Since Itamar Ben-Gvir took office as Minister of National Security in charge of the police at the start of the year, the sense has been that the community has been profoundly neglected by law enforcement.

“Personal security means walking in the streets and in your neighborhood without fear that you’ll get a bullet in your head because organized criminals decide to settle their accounts outside your home,” said Amir Bashara, a lawyer and economic advisor to The National Committee of Heads of Arab Local Authorities.

“It’s about your ability to let your children go out to play with friends in the neighborhood or just walk home from school without the trip ending up in a hospital or a cemetery. It’s about not being constantly on the alert for fear that the agitated driver next to you on the road will pull out a gun to solve a parking dispute. Personal security is the basic and primary thing that the state must provide to the citizen, to every citizen. It’s sad that we have to fight for that.”

The protest tent is part of a variety of actions Arab leaders are taking to press the government into action that would help quell crime and violence in Arab society. The campaign is called “We Want to Live,” and it seeks to pressure decision makers to open the door to partnership with those in the Jewish community who are committed to justice and equality and are unwilling to abide the notion that the violence in the Arab community is solely that community’s problem.