Palestinians condemn Israeli bill giving broad powers to the police

Palestinians condemn Israeli bill giving broad powers to the police

Occupied East Jerusalem – Israel is taking steps to over-watch and increase its surveillance of the Palestinian population within its 1949 borders under the pretext of reducing the high crime rate within the community, the Palestinians say.
In the latest measure, the Israeli cabinet on Sunday approved a proposal granting the police what the Palestinians see as too broad powers – allowing them to freely search homes without a warrant – “if they think they can find a suspect or evidence related to a serious crime. crime, ”according to Israeli media.

The bill, proposed by Minister Gideon Saar, comes after a government decision last month to deploy Israel’s internal intelligence service, known as Shabak or Shin Bet, to Palestinian towns and villages as part of its “national fight against crime”.

With cabinet support, the bill will be passed in Israel’s parliament – the Knesset – before becoming law. It is not yet clear whether the proposal will get a majority vote.

Hassan Jabareen, founder and director of Adalah, the leading Palestinian legal defense organization in Israel, said the bill would give police the pretext of searching any Palestinian home.

“In practice, they will be able to enter most Arab homes, because in every [Arab] neighborhood and city, there are shootings and murders, ”Hassan told Al Jazeera. “It simply came to our notice then.

He said this meant there would be “no judicial review” over the operation of entering the houses, which “strips the houses of their sanctity.”

“It will even allow the police to enter houses and use them for maneuvers, for example, if they are suspicious of the house next door,” Hassan continued.

“We are moving from under-police to over-police -om one extreme to the other,” adding that the new legislation could be used to “terrorize people”, especially in times of protest.

Awad Abdelfattah, political writer and former secretary general of the National Democratic Alliance party, said this “created a state of tension” for the Palestinians.

“It will restrict our freedoms and put us under further surveillance,” he told Al Jazeera from the town of Kawkab near Haifa.

“Inexpensive Control Method”

Over the past decade, the issue of crime and homicide has plagued the Palestinian community inside Israel, referred to as the “1948 occupied territories” or “the Palestinian occupied interior”.

The number of murders has increased dramatically in recent years. So far in 2021, more than 100 Palestinians have been killed in homicides, exceeding last year’s total of 97. In 2013, there were 53 murders.

On Monday morning, Salim Hasarmah, 44, was killed in a shootout in the town of al-Bi’neh, east of Acre. Less than 24 hours later, Khalil Abu Je’o, 25, was killed in Umm al Fahm, northwest of Jenin.

While Israel opened large numbers of police stations in and around Palestinian towns during and after the second Intifada in 2000, shootings have escalated over the past decade, with the vast majority of cases not being reported. resolved.

Historic mass protests and clashes with police erupted in March 2021 in the central town of Umm al-Fahm, against police indifference and what the Palestinians say is Israel’s investment in it. endurance of crime within the community to weaken it, and collusion with criminal gangs.

Abdelfattah said Israel is using internal violence as a “cheap method” to exert control over the Palestinians.

“The internal violence in the occupied areas of 48 is the result of colonial violence and colonial policies which created all the social, cultural and economic conditions to block the path, the horizon and the hope, for the Palestinians, until ‘so that they turn on themselves. said Abdelfattah.

Rights groups have long documented the struggle of Palestinians in Israel, who number 1.8 million. In addition to Israel’s efforts to suppress their Palestinian identity over the years, the majority live in densely populated cities and with little access to land and resources – most of which were seized during and after 1948 for them. Jewish settlers.

“Police collusion”

Mohammad Taher Jabareen, one of the founders of the united movement Umm al-Fahm Hirak, the main group organizing the protests, said the killings started to spread in the city after the opening of a police station in 2003 .

“Crime and killings have increased with the opening of police stations,” Mohammad told Al Jazeera.

“About 100 meters from the police station there are said to be murders, and this is never investigated, and no one is held responsible. The police are the ones who offer people the opportunity to commit crimes and to turn a blind eye to them. “

Mohammad said that “police corruption” and the Shin Bet are “the main sources of organized crime and violence”.

“The majority of the weapons come from storage units of the police and the IDF,” he said, adding that “police officers have accepted bribes from criminal groups in Umm al-Fahm “.

“How do they claim that they are the strongest state, from a security point of view, when they claim not to know where the weapons are coming from? ” He asked. “They know that these weapons come from their own warehouses and are sold in the Arab community.

“When problems arise in the Arab community, it means it is criminal. When it is linked to the Jews, it is always security, ”added Mohammad.

On August 11, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet announced the creation of a “Ministerial Committee to Combat Crime and Violence in the Arab Sector”, as part of a “national plan” to “wage a fight ceaseless, constant and persistent, with all force, against crime and violence ”.

Under the plan, planned measures include increasing the police presence in Palestinian towns, as well as “strengthening intelligence and investigative capacities”, expanding the “legal toolbox” using “Advanced technological means in support of enforcement and prevention efforts”; and “the advancement of legislation on the matter”.

Two new police stations will also be opened among Palestinian towns in the northern region of Marj Ibn Amer and in the coastal Palestinian town of Jisr az-Zarqa, as well as among Palestinian Bedouin communities in the Naqab Desert.

“Angry Generation”

Following the recent decision to involve the Shin Bet in the crime problem, Adalah submitted a petition calling it “illegal” and “a direct continuation of military rule”, referring to the period between 1948 and 1966 under which the Palestinians of Israel lived in difficult conditions. military control.

Adalah argued that he “creates two separate law enforcement systems – one for towns, neighborhoods and Palestinian Arab citizens, and one for the rest of the country.” It also “brings the Shin Bet into a civilian space, where it has no legal authority.”

Abdelfattah described the Shin Bet as “one of the most powerful and dangerous repressive devices since 1948,” and said it permeates the Palestinian community inside Israel.

He said he was under surveillance himself and had been arrested at his home and questioned several times on the basis of “incitement against the state” – but was never formally charged. He was also fired from three workplaces.

“They are increasing the surveillance and pressure on us, while weakening us politically to force us out of the country voluntarily,” Abdelfattah said.

Despite the new measures, he said, “violence gives birth to counter-violence”.

“During the last popular explosion in May, the areas occupied in 1948 played a major role. There is an angry young generation, which is becoming more and more aware, which will not remain silent. “


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