JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s parliament passed a law on Tuesday expanding police powers, allowing them to stop and frisk suspects without probable cause, the latest attempt to crack down on near-daily Palestinian attacks on Israelis.
Critics say the law will allow police to racially profile minorities and Arabs.
While previously police could only search people suspected of carrying a weapon, under the new measures officers can search anyone in areas declared by district police commanders to be possible settings for “hostile sabotage activity.” They can also search people they suspect might commit violent crime.
Israel’s internal security minister Gilad Erdan of the Likud party said the law is “an important enhancement of the police’s ability to more effectively battle terrorism and violence.”
Arab lawmaker Jamal Zahalka said that it was “clear the main people affected will be Arabs and people who look like Arabs.”
Since September, 26 Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks. At least 151 Palestinians have died from Israeli fire, including 106 Israel said were attackers.
In October, Israel approved new measures to crack down on violence. Steps approved included allowing police to impose a closure on points of friction or incitement according to security assessments.
Israel also resumed the demolition of homes belonging to Palestinian assailants. On Tuesday, the military said security forces measured the home of Amjad Sukkari, 34, a Palestinian police officer who shot at Israeli soldiers at a West Bank checkpoint Sunday, wounding three before troops shot him dead.
Israel says home demolition deters attacks, but critics say the tactic amounts to collective punishment.