Justice Minister Gideon Saar embraces the family of slain friend and political ally Sahar Ismail on Monday

Civil servant's murder again highlights neglect of Arab sector violence

Killing of Sahar Ismail brings focus to disturbing phenomenon that has seen 70 deaths since start of year alone; Knesset study shows young Arab man 21 times more likely to be shot than Jewish contemporaries, Arab men over 25 years are 36 times more likely to be victims of gunfire

Gilad Cohen |
Published: 08.20.21, 13:52
"Sahar's legacy must be combating this kind of violence," says Justice Minister Gideon Saar, a close friend of Sahar Ismail, the latest victim of violence in the Arab sector.
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  • Ismail was gunned down outside his Galilee home earlier this week. He was shot by an unknown assailant as he was leaving for his job at the Education Ministry where he served as a special advisor to Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    הלוויתו של סאהר איסמעיל  ביישוב ראמה
    הלוויתו של סאהר איסמעיל  ביישוב ראמה
    Justice Minister Gideon Saar embraces the family of slain friend and political ally Sahar Ismail on Monday
    (Photo: Ido Erez)
    Ismail was the 70th fatality of violent crime in the Arab sector since the beginning of the year and the latest statistics on this deadly phenomenon show that thus far, the government has been fighting a losing battle.
    According to the Research and Information Center of the Knesset, a young Arab man is 21 times more likely to be shot than his contemporaries in the Jewish sector. Arab men over 25 years are 36 times more likely to be victims of gunfire compared to Jewish men in the same age range.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    מחוץ לביתו של סאהר אסמאעיל אשר נרצח ביישוב ראמה
    מחוץ לביתו של סאהר אסמאעיל אשר נרצח ביישוב ראמה
    Police investigators at the scene of the murder of Sahar Ismail
    (Photo: Gil Nehushtan)
    The Knesset study revealed that between 2017 and 2020, a total of 10,891 people have either been wounded or killed by gunfire in Israel. Of that number, 84% of were Arab citizens of Israel, 12% were Jewish Israelis and the rest Arabs who were not citizens of the country.
    The study also showed that most criminal cases involving weapons in the Arab sector were closed without charges due to lack of evidence.
    One reason for the rise in violent crimes in Arab communities is an abundance of illegal arms.
    Between 2017 and 2020, some 27,000 weapons, gun parts and ammunition were confiscated by law enforcement. This included 2,000 firearms, handguns and rifles, 73% of which were linked to criminal cases involving Arab suspects. Most of the weapons had been stolen from IDF bases.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    שיא בלכידת אמל"ח: סבתא בת 75 עם 8 כלי נשק,  4 רובים ו-4 אקדחים
    שיא בלכידת אמל"ח: סבתא בת 75 עם 8 כלי נשק,  4 רובים ו-4 אקדחים
    Weapons and ammunition confiscated by police in the Arab sector last week
    (Photo: Israel Police)
    Data collected from the Ministry for Public Security showed that between 2017 and 2020 there were 34,951 calls to the police hotline about shooting offences, an increase of 40% from previous years.
    Most of the calls came from Bedouin communities in the south, and included complaints about shots fired at wedding celebrations.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    מנסור עבאס  במליאת הכנסת
    מנסור עבאס  במליאת הכנסת
    Ra'am party leader Mansour Abbas speaking in the Knesset earlier this month
    (Photo: The Knesset)
    MK Mansour Abbas, the Ra'am party leader who chairs the special parliamentary panel on Arab sector affairs, said that violence in Arab communities is a plague that must be dealt with severely, but this must include an improvement in the standard of living in the sector.
    "It is vitally important to remove weapons from the hands of Arab civilians, but even more important is the introduction of hope into these communities," he said.
    "We must create quality of life for Arabs in Israel. We must invest in education, housing, industry and all other aspects of life that will ultimately prevent the next murder," Abbas said.
    The chair of the Knesset committee on internal security, Yesh Atid MK Merav Ben-Ari, says the government's national program to combat violence in the Arab sector will be implemented.
    "As chairperson, I will oversee the work of the police to ensure increased enforcement," she said.
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