The Israel Police said Thursday that its officers had arrested 85 suspects and detained an additional 48 people for questioning in a large operation aimed at cracking down on violent crime in the Arab community.
Police said they carried out raids over a 24-hour period and managed to seize 18 pistols, three M16 rifles, two airsoft guns, an improvised explosive device and a range of ammunition, as well as around NIS 1.5 million ($400,000) in cash.
“The Israel Police will continue its uncompromising fight against the main crime perpetrators in order to strengthen the public’s sense of security,” said Shmuel Sharvit of the Intelligence Department, noting that the operation included thousands of officers and Border Police officers.
Police commissioner Kobi Shabtai participated in the operation as well, joining officers during raids that took place in the central town of Lod.
According to the Abraham Initiatives, an anti-violence watchdog, a record-high 146 members of Israel’s Arab community have been killed as a result of violent crime since the start of 2023 — more than double the toll at this time last year.
The killings are part of a violent crime wave that has engulfed the Arab community in recent years. Many community leaders blame the police, who they say have failed to crack down on powerful criminal organizations and largely ignore the violence. They also point to decades of neglect and discrimination by government offices as the root cause of the problem.