TEL AVIV – For the first time, the Israel Police is slated to appoint a Muslim as deputy commissioner – the second-highest rank in the police force, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Dep.-Ch. Jamal Hakrush, from the Arab town of Kafr Kana north of Nazareth, is to head a special police branch focusing on the issues facing the crime-plagued Arab sector, with special emphasis on providing additional police services and recruiting more Arab police officers.
Hakrush, who is currently the deputy head of the Coastal District and a Muslim from Kafr previously served as the deputy head of the Traffic Police.
The plan for the new police branch includes the construction of more than 10 new police stations in Arab communities, as well as the recruitment of more than 1,300 police from the Arab sector over the next five years.
This follows Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan’s promise that the police will increase its manpower in the Arab sector and intensify law enforcement and recruitment among Israel’s wider Muslim community.
Israel Police Insp.-Gen. Roni Alsheich told a Knesset committee meeting last week that the level of crime in the Arab sector is “unacceptable” and was causing Arab citizens to suffer.
“The situation is unacceptable and the ones who suffer the most are first and foremost Arab civilians, and afterward the other sectors of society. There is a very powerful desire in the Arab sector to strengthen the police work there, and over the decades we haven’t done this,” Alsheich said.
Although Arabs only comprise 21% of Israel’s population, 59% of the country’s murders and 55% of attempted murders take place in the sector.
In addition, 58% of arsons, 47% of robberies and 32% of property crimes reported to police are in the Arab community, according to data from 2015.
The issue of crime in the Arab sector in Israel is compounded by the huge number of illegal firearms in Arab communities. The terrorist attack in Tel Aviv on New Year’s Day that left three people dead restored public attention to the problem of firearms. The terrorist, Israeli Arab Nashat Milhem, used a submachine gun that his father, a former volunteer police officer, had a legal permit to possess.