Israel: June 26, 2000


Israeli intelligence reports that over the last five years, Israeli Arabs had bought hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of firearms and have hidden them in their villages and towns in northern Israel. Some of the weapons were smuggled in from Lebanon, some were slipped over the border from the Palestinian Self-Ruled Authority, others were bought from Israeli criminals or from Israeli soldiers who stole and sold weapons to buy drugs. When Ron Alik, commander of the Israeli police in the northern region, said as much in public, he was called on the carpet for "interfering in politics". There are about a million Israeli Arabs, and they have ten members of the Israeli parliament who are often the balance of power. Israeli Arabs, for the most part, have more income and democracy than any other Arabs. Their accumulation of weapons may have many reasons. Some fear that there must eventually come a brutal civil war inside Israel and the Occupied or Self-Ruled Territories. Others feel guilt that they have lived well while Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories carried the burden of the Intifada and harsher conditions. Arab towns inside Israel are prosperous, and Israeli police and tax collectors fear to enter them. Israeli Arabs often build new houses without bothering to get Israeli building permits. 


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