JERUSALEM (Dec. 28)
Police Minister Shlomo Hillel has admitted that the police were powerless to curb the protection racket that is flourishing in the major cities and “increasing along with other forms of crime.” He said the reason was that extortion victims were afraid to testify against the extortionists. He also cited reductions or pending reductions in the police badger. He said Arab terrorism and armed robbery topped the police priority list.
Hillel spoke several days ago in the Knesset in reply to two agenda motions on the rising incidence of crime in Israel. He said it was virtually impossible to obtain convictions in extortion cases because under the present judicial requirements the complainant must appear in court to testify against the suspect. Many dare not expose themselves for fear of retribution, he said.
Hillel was sharply criticized in Israel’s two mass circulation dailies. Yediot Achronot attributed the rise in crime to “the absence of government in this country” a condition “that additional funds will not help.” Maariv said in an editorial that “The bitter reality is that the police is not very efficient…It is the police’s failure that the underworld is so strong, that a person prefers to pay (extortion) rather than complain to the police.”