The Wild Wild Negev

Opinion: In order to solve the problem of illegal weapons and subsequent violence in the Arab sector in general, and in southern Bedouin communities in particular, the Israeli police must employ the same tactics used in the war on terror
Matan Tzuri|
Photos and videos of young Bedouin men in the Negev waving short-barreled M-16 rifles, driving wildly and firing bullets in all directions have recently been going viral on social media, leaving many Israelis stunned.
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  • This is the Wild Negev, where there is no law and order, where huge amounts of weapons are making their way into the Bedouin communities, and where over time the little gun safe has turned into a weapons depot.
    3 View gallery
    פשיעה וחוסר משילות בדרום
    פשיעה וחוסר משילות בדרום
    Bedouin gangs in the Negev
    The police say they take the situation seriously. They have increased the presence of police officers in these areas, trying to carry out proactive and targeted raids. These raids, however, usually result in police seizing a rifle here, a gun there, but that's pretty much it.
    Southern District Police have for years consistently refrained from going into the the hearts of these communities to deal with the issue at its core, but it was all a matter of priorities. Although they don't admit to it, every senior police official in the Negev knows exactly where the problem lies - the police suffer from a hopeless lack of intelligence in the Bedouin sector.
    The police in the south have never mapped out the forces operating within the sector. It does not have the necessary means, courage and ability to take this issue and dismantle it from within by gathering intelligence. Who are the criminals who purchase these weapons? Who is funding them? Where is the money coming from? Who has a conflict with whom, and who has the potential to retaliate if police intervene?
    The Israel Police are operating in the fog in the Arab sector in general, and in the Bedouin community in particular, unable to gather enough intelligence to understand what is actually happening there. The IDF, the Shin Bet and the Mossad, for instance, have intelligence maps in their respective wars on terror.
    3 View gallery
    מחאת תושבים נגד הפשיעה בנגב
    מחאת תושבים נגד הפשיעה בנגב
    Israelis protest in the south against the crime perpetrated by Bedouin gangs
    (Photo: Herzl Yossef)
    These intelligence maps are being updated daily in order to allow the services, using the tools at their disposal, to predict the future with as much accuracy as possible in order to prevent potential terrorist attacks. This is not the case with the Israel Police.
    By the way, when it comes to police's fight against the criminal organizations in the general sector, the situation is actually much better. In other words, the police have the ability to gather excellent intelligence and have operations personnel who know how to get results. So why is this not happening in the Negev or the Galilee? There is no good reason.
    If they lack budgets and manpower, then the police commissioner and the district commanders must appear before the public and tell the truth: "Without budgets, resources and professionals - we will not be able to stop the trade of illegal weapons in the north and south." For now, however, they remain silent.
    Violent, armed gangs are a minority, but they have an impact on the entire population. The Bedouin communities in the Negev are full of ordinary people, who are citizens of this country and need the police to protect them from criminals. This phenomenon harms their image and above all - endangers theirs and their children's immediate future.
    3 View gallery
    פשיעה וחוסר משילות בדרום
    פשיעה וחוסר משילות בדרום
    Bedouin gangs in the Negev display their weapons arsenal
    So what is the solution? There is in fact a solution that senior officers have been proposing for years - treat the trade of illegal weapons in the Arab sector with the same severity as terrorism.
    Take needed steps, implement advanced measures and adopt working methods that are being used in the war on terror. Monitor phone calls, activate agents, take aerial photographs and build an intelligence map so thorough that it shows the structure of a tent.
    It should have been done a long time ago, but it is still not too late.
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