Update: Just hours after publishing this article, Dr. Sneh's car was torched outside his home in Herzliya.
He told the Jerusalem Post: “It's very clear to me that this is the work of criminals," Sneh said. "I don't know if the criminal read the [party] platform, but it's possible that other things we've done led to this violent message. Remember that last month alone, four mayors were victims of violent attacks by criminals." Sheh, a former deputy defense minister, said that he did not fear for his life, despite the arson attack. "I'm a man who comes from years of service in the war on terror, and there were personal threats of my life when I was serving in that capacity, but it doesn't deter me," he said defiantly. “
By Ephraim Sneh
After the fighting in Gaza ceased, the internal terrorism in our country again raised its head. This week, just one day apart, two attacks were made against elected officials. A grenade was hurled at the house of Kiryat Ekron Council Chairman Arik Hadad. A day later an explosive device was thrown at the house of Beit Jan Council Chairman, Dayan Kablan. Three weeks ago a grenade was thrown at the house of Kiryat-Yam’s mayor, Shmuel Sisso. Two weeks ago the police discovered a conspiracy to murder Bat-Yam Mayor Shlomi Lahiani. A veritable crime offensive. The common denominator between these four cases is the struggle of the mayors and local councils against criminals seeking to gain control of business assets through violence. The ominous fact is that the criminals are no longer hesitating to use military means to attack persons elected by the public. Deterrence has been lost.
What must be done when deterrence has been lost? Renew it. Had the Hamas ever likewise tried to attack Israeli elected officials, we presumably would have launched a major military offensive against it. Yet when it is the crime families the attitude is different. The crime families and the other assorted offenders will not be deterred if there is no adequate response to them. In their present circumstances the police and the law authorities are finding it hard to fight crime in the intensity and scope that are needed.
The plan I have prepared for the war on crime, and which I plan to implement as Minister of Internal Security, is the approach we need right now. A war against the crime families and the hundreds and perhaps thousands of criminal incidents which take place in Israel daily. Crimes against the elderly, against children, against business owners and so forth.
This plan has the following components:
• Stiffening penalties for serious crimes.
• Emergency legislation to give more effective tools to fight organized crime.
• Establishing a system to protect law officials, government and tax workers.
• Economic measures against the crime families.
• A special operation to fight the protection rackets.
• Bolstering the police with resources and manpower. Rehabilitation and strengthening of the status of the policeman and the prestige of service.
This is a practical plan. It is not built simply on budgetary increases and added legislation. Fundamentally, it will provide both leadership and judicial and economic backing to those who are fighting crime, which has become such a plague in our country.
Our government’s feeble attitude toward crime is part of the process the state has been undergoing over the last twelve years. The process led by Binyamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister and Finance Minister has been one of an abandonment by government of its responsibilities toward the citizen. That’s how it’s been with health-care and geriatric services, with education, with pension security, and with all the realms of social service. But personal safety is a just as much a fundamental civic right as the right to health and to an education for one’s children.
I believe that eliminating crime is possible and I mean to prove it.
Dr. Sneh is a medical doctor, veteran of many years in the Israel Defense Force in both medical and combat roles, including serving as head of the civil administration for the West Bank. He served in the Knesset for 16 years as a Labor party member of parliament and has held the positions as minister of health, of transportation, and deputy defense minister.
In May 2008 he resigned from the Knesset and the Labour party, later forming the Strong Israel party. The party supports a strong but flexible foreign policy and highlights the Iranian threat. It puts a strong emphasis on domestic issues, insisting that government must remembers its main duty is to serve citizen’s needs and to ensure honesty in its own ranks. A strong Israel requires not merely an effective military but also honest government, a strong educational and health system, and improving the environment and infrastructure.
If you are interested in joining the party or supporting its efforts, please contact me, as head of the English-speaking section. Note that we have two Anglophones, including myself, on our Knesset list. Also visit our site at http://www.israelhazaka.org.il/92-en/FAQ.aspx.
Translated by Saadya Sternberg