2020: Police Arrests 5,713 Suspects in Weapons Offenses, 90% of Them Arab Israelis

The police increased its activity against the plague of shootings and weapons offenses in Israel in 2020. Photo by TPS on 2 October, 2020

By: Aryeh Savir

The police increased its activity against the plague of shootings and weapons offenses in Israel in 2020 and arrested 5,713 suspects in shootings and other weapons crimes throughout the country, an increase of 22% compared to 2019.

The vast majority of police activity was carried out in the Arab sector, which has been suffering from an ongoing wave of murders and violence, and about 90% of the suspects arrested for shooting and weapons offenses were Arab Israelis.

Over 100 Arabs were murdered in Israel throughout 2020.

In the past year, 1,548 indictments were filed against defendants in shootings and weapons offenses throughout the country, an increase of more than 18% compared to 2019.

Approximately 85% of the indictments filed in Israel in 2020 for shooting, illegal possession of weapons, trafficking, and illegal use of weapons have been filed against suspects from the Arab society.

Israeli Arabs represent about 20% of the general population.

In the past year, police have conducted thousands of seizures of weapons in Arab communities in Israel and has confiscated some 1,150 handguns, submachine guns, and rifles of various types.

In addition, more than 200 grenades of various types, large quantities of ammunition, cartridges, and explosives were seized.

The police locate weapons and ammunition and arrest offenders on a daily basis.

The police underscored that illegal weapons are often used by criminals, gangs and crime families, mainly in conflicts and the settling of local accounts, but not only.

“These weapons are also used for terrorist activities, serious crimes and incidents of severe violence,” the police noted in its report on Tuesday.

The police emphasized that “the ongoing police fight against weapons and shootings will take place all the time, all over the country, from north to south, and especially among Arab society.”

Relating to claims made mostly by Arab politicians and some rights organizations that the police is not serious in its war on crime in the Arab sector, the police stated that “unfortunately, various factors often try to present an alternative reality and blame the police activity against criminal elements in the sector instead of strengthening the police in its determined treatment of violence in Arab society and acting with all the tools available to lead to change.”

“Along with the continued enforcement and its deepening, in order to treat the phenomenon and uproot it completely, multi-systemic treatment and a deep-rooted change that is far beyond police enforcement is required,” it added.

“The Israel Police will continue its determined and uncompromising fight against weapons offenses, in the communities of Arab society and elsewhere in order to maintain public peace and security,” it concluded.

The Knesset’s Research and Information Center presented a study in June showing that police carried out 51,128 criminal arrests in 2019, of which about 39% of those arrested were Jews and 61% were non-Jews. Israeli Arabs represent about 20% of the general population.

Between 2015 and 2019, 80% of those suspected of committing firearm-related crimes in Israel were non-Jews.

The homicide rate in the Arab community in Israel increased by 60% from 2016 to 2019, and in 2018, the murder rate among Arabs in Israel was more than eight times the rate among Jewish Israelis, a new study published by the Baladna Association for Arab Youth shows.

In total, 575 homicides were reported over the course of the past nine years.