Study: More than one third of Israel's Arab citizens feel unsafe in their communities
While Israel Police claims it is increasing its presence in Arab towns and villages and hiring more members of sector to the force; the level of violence in the sector remains high - and research by NGO points to deep-rooted discrimination as a core reason
More than one third (35.8%) of Arab citizens of Israel say they feel they lack personal safety in their own communities, according to a study conducted by the Abraham Initiatives, a non-profit organization that advances coexistence between Israel's Jewish and Arab citizens.
A parallel study conducted among Jewish Israelis put the percentage at just 12.8%.
More than one quarter (26.6%) of Arab citizens say they or a member of their family have been a victim of some form of violence, the study found.
The research was conducted over a period of one year by Dr. Nohad Ali and was presented this week to Knesset members, city mayors and police at a conference in Kafr Qassem, an Arab town east of Tel Aviv.
According to the study, 35.8% of Arab citizens say they feel they lack personal safety in their own communities. A parallel study conducted among Jewish Israelis put the percentage at just 12.8%.
The study also found that 80.3% of Arab citizens consider violence on their streets to be their most pressing problem, followed by the presence of firearms (77%) and finally the amount of crime (73.5%).
Ninety percent said it is easy to obtain weapons and 59.3% fear they will themselves be hurt by acts of violence - compared to just 19.6% of Jewish citizens.
The Abraham Initiatives has been hoping to raise awareness about the high percentage of Arabs among the annual rate of murder victims, which is sometimes three times higher than the percentage of the general population that is Arab.
Last year, the Abraham Initiatives says, there were 72 Arab citizens among the 123 victims of murder - a figure constituting 58.5% of the total number.
The Ministry of Public Security and the Israel Police have both announced they have set targets to improve policing in Arab communities. A special administrative unit has been formed and more police stations opened in Arab towns.
The Israel Police also increased the number of Arabs in the force most of whom are Muslims.
Nonetheless, the Abraham Initiatives' study found that the levels of violence remain high and can be attributed, the NGO says, to deep-rooted discrimination against Arabs in all aspects of Israeli society.