Jamal Hakrush will be in charge of improving the policing services in Arab neighbourhoods and towns in Israel. He will be responsible for establishing police stations in new Arab towns while strengthening the existing stations.
Internal security minister Gilad Erdan presented the officer with his rank, calling it an historic occasion: “Until this day, we have not provided the Arab sector with equal law enforcement capabilities”.
Hakrush, aged 59, is from the Galilee village of Kafr Kanna and joined the police force in 1978. He was previously in charge of police stations in three Israeli cities and deputy commander of the coastal region.
This week, Israel’s government announced a five-year plan to improve law enforcement in Arab communities, in order to reduce crime rates. The plan, which is reported to cost £2.5 billion will see the construction of ten new police stations and the renovation of ten others in areas with a large Arab population. In addition, hundreds of new Israeli Arab police officers will be recruited.
The plan aims to will boost housing, education, employment, infrastructure and transportation in Israel’s minority Arab communities.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented: “We want equality in law enforcement,” which he said currently does not exist, and that as a result “the Arab public is paying dearly. The State of Israel is paying dearly”. He added: “We also want to reduce other gaps in society at large and in Israeli Arab society. We want to integrate them in all walks of life in the country – and this is what we will do”.
Israel’s 1.7 million-strong Arab minority – 20% of the total population – participates fully in Israel’s political system. There are currently 17 Israeli Arab members in the 120-seat Knesset, and Arabic is Israel’s official second language.