The number of violent crimes committed by Arabs in Israel rose last year by 20 percent, according to official statistics revealed Friday, sparking outrage from the local media.
The Interior Ministry has been releasing violence statistics annually for the past three years.
According to the ministry, 42,484 violent crimes were reported against Arab Israelis in 2018, compared to 39,255 in 2017. Police officials told the Haaretz newspaper that many cases went unnoticed or were missed, noting that 12,500 attacks that could have been prevented went unreported.
Kadima, the main opposition party, called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to take swift action to prevent such rising crime against Arabs, insisting that “no country can function successfully if its citizens are terrorized.”
Criticism of the failure to stop the growth of violent crime against Arabs has heightened in recent years after two Arabs, one a student, were stabbed to death last year in Petah Tikva, a town in central Israel. The government has not said whether any suspects have been arrested in either of those killings.
Those deaths, and violence against other Israelis, have also increased since the government last year introduced a new law that allows the punishment of secondary boycotts of Israel. Those involved can be arrested for accessory to a serious crime if they boycott firms doing business in Israel or are customers of those doing business there.
“It is the height of hypocrisy for the Netanyahu government to publish data when Israel’s citizens, including Arabs, are the most lightly punished for their crimes and receive stiffer sentences than their Jewish citizens. It is high time that Netanyahu meets with opposition leaders and explains to them that Israel’s citizens are not exempt from being criminalized,” Zeev Elkin, a lawmaker from Kadima, said in a statement.