Shin Bet is not police force, security officials tell Netanyahu

Amid unprecedented levels of violence proliferating in Arab sector, former officials in Israel's security apparatus oppose using Shin Bet as a quasi-police force, calling instead for personal security and effective governance for Arab citizens; former Shin Bet chief: 'Ben-Gvir unqualified for the role'

Dozens of former senior officials in Israel's security apparatus voiced their strong opposition to inserting the Shin Bet to quell surging violence in the Arab sector, in a letter published Monday by members of the "Commanders for Israel's Security" movement.
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"The State of Israel cannot tolerate the alarming statistics – 102 lives lost in the Arab sector since the beginning of the year should not be considered inevitable. The Arab sector is entitled to personal security and effective governance, just like Jewish citizens of Israel. The success of police operations relies on trust between citizens and officers, and each victim and shooting incident damages the Arab citizens' sense of belonging to the state and undermines the sector's trust in the police as a whole," according to the letter.
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ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו הנחה להיערך לשילוב השב"כ במלחמה במשפחות הפשע במגזר הערבי
ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו הנחה להיערך לשילוב השב"כ במלחמה במשפחות הפשע במגזר הערבי
Government meeting regarding Arab sector violence
(Photo: Haim Tzach)
They further stated that "to establish effective deterrence, it is imperative to implement stringent laws with severe penalties for illegal weapon possession and usage, including crackdowns on such activities even during celebratory events like weddings.
"Furthermore, the legal procedures must be streamlined, reducing judicial discretion, while targeting the vulnerable aspects of these organizations, namely their financial resources. Significantly investing in education, culture and infrastructure within the Arab communities, through coordinated efforts of socio-economic ministries, will prove exponentially more impactful than relying solely on security measures," the officials said in the letter.
"Rather than evading responsibility, the police force must undergo a transformative process, shifting from a beleaguered entity to a successful organization, as envisioned by former Deputy Minister of Internal Security, Yoav Segalovich," they concluded.

Representing the Commanders for Israel Security movement, the security officials expressed their position unequivocally: "Employing invasive measures against citizens without a legitimate need to combat terrorism or political subversion blurs the line between an intelligence agency in a democratic nation and a secret police. Furthermore, deploying the Shin Bet in the Arab sector is tantamount to branding it as an adversary of the state, despite being a casualty of government ineptitude."
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ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו עם ראש ה שב"כ רונן בר הרמת כוסית לרכל חג הפסח
ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו עם ראש ה שב"כ רונן בר הרמת כוסית לרכל חג הפסח
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and current Shin Bet director Ronen Bar
(Photo: Kobi Gideon)
According to Ami Ayalon, former director of the Shin Bet, integrating an arm of Israeli intelligence into the Arab sector presents intricate challenges. During a recent interview at the Ynet studio, Ayalon elucidated that "the agency lacks the necessary resources to address socioeconomic-rooted phenomena. These are protracted developments within a secluded sector that senses marginalization. One must delve back many years and comprehend that violence does not manifest overnight."
Nevertheless, Ayalon asserts that the Shin Bet possesses the capability to contribute to the ongoing crisis.
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ישיבת ממשלה
ישיבת ממשלה
Former Shin Bet head Ami Ayalon says Itamar Ben-Gvir is 'the epitome of a grave menace to the ideals of freedom and liberty in Arab sector'
(Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
"The issue of violence in Arab the sector transcends its boundaries. The Shin Bet already provides assistance using tools unavailable to the police. It is undeniably true that the Shin Bet's involvement will be beneficial," he explains.
"We witnessed it during my tenure as director, whether in combating money laundering or assisting in identifying specific cases during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is no legal impediment for the agency to provide support; it is well within its purview. The key lies in comprehending the extent of the service's capacities," he said.
Ayalon did not mince words when it comes to National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.
"His resignation or termination is imperative. It is not solely due to his failure, as he is not the first minister to falter in their role. Ben-Gvir embodies a figure that instills no sense of trust among those responsible for assuming leadership, particularly the heads of local authorities within the Arab community. He has emerged as the epitome of a grave menace to the ideals of freedom and liberty in the Arab sector, rendering him unfit to fulfill this role."
The former Shin Bet chief referred to the prime minister, director of the prime minister's office and a designated committee as those who are chiefly responsible for curtailing the explosion of violence in the Arab sector, in conjunction with Arab community representatives.
"Shin Bet can assist, but not spearhead," he said.
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