Since the beginning of the year, 31 members of Israel's Arab sector have been murdered in criminal incidents compared to 50 over the same time period in 2021.
However, there is still a long way until Israel reaches its goal of eradicating its sizeable Arab minority's violent crime problem, which has claimed its latest victim late Sunday in the northern Arab village of 'Ara.
The victim, a 51-year-old man, was shot dead. Police launched searches for suspects while forensics collected evidence from the scene.
According to Israel Police data, 42 people have been murdered in Israel since the beginning of 2022, 31 of whom were members of the Arab sector, including 4 women. So far, police have only managed to crack 12 cases involving Arab victims.
Police credit the decline to their recent efforts to nip violent crime in the Arab Sector in the bud, having cracked down and prosecuted 233 of what they dub "major crime sources" in recent months, which constitute almost 30% of their target pool, thanks to the nationwide operational groundwork of its elite serious crime unit Lahav 433.
Police focus mainly on seizing illegal weapons, having confiscated over 1,300 firearms so far. Police data show that some 70% of guns seized were smuggled into Israel from either Lebanon or Jordan, another 20% from the West Bank and the rest were stolen from military bases or private individuals. In addition, police have also uncovered five illegal weapons-making workshops in the West Bank.
Police officials state that the allocation of extra budgets allowed law enforcement to have a bigger presence in Arab communities and recruit more Arab citizens to the force.
"In the last five years, 800 Muslims joined the Israeli police. As a result of these recent changes, nowadays, the police is able to respond more quickly to violent incidents in the sector," the officials told Ynet, while also heaping praise on Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai.
"The commissioner works in a completely different fashion. He arrives personally at some crime scenes and looks for ways to reduce such incidents. He also insists on seeing results that will bring to the arrest of those responsible for the violence in the Arab sector."
This comes as part of the government's new work plan to stave off violent crime in the Arab sector.
Last Friday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett circulated a letter in the media appealing to the "silent majority" in Israel, in which he stated that "in the past four months we reduced the number of shootings in the Arab sector by 30%."
"For the first time, we are taking the matter of Arab violence and illegal weapons seriously," Bennett wrote. "After a decade of neglect, I made a decision along with Public Security Minister Omer Barlev to assemble a special team to fight the phenomenon, and the move already bears fruit."
According to Barlev, "the police acts with great determination and does anything in its power to fight the violence in the Arab sector."
"I personally follow the activity, and we can see the results: In comparison to the first four and a half months of the year, compared to the same time period in 2021, I can point out a 49% increase in weapon seizures; a 14% increase in prosecutions on gun charges; and the number of monthly victims in the Arab sector, which peaked at 18 in September 2021, dropped to seven in January 2022, five in February, six in March and five in April."
Barlev added that "these numbers prove that we were able to contain the violence and crime in the Arab sector, and we were able to cut it down to size. We are on the right track, the results speak for themselves, and I vow that we won't slow down until the streets are safe."