TEL AVIV (Apr. 5)
The Police Ministry does not have enough money to deploy as many officers in the administered territories as it did before the beginning of the Palestinian uprising 16 months ago.
The size of the police force shrunk considerably during the first few months of the uprising, when Arab police officers resigned en masse. But the problem was exacerbated when Palestinians stopped paying their taxes, Police Minister Haim Bar-Lev told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday.
“Falling tax revenues of the civil administration due to the intifada meant less money for police salaries,” he said.
Even this reduced sum does not go as far, he said, because the Israelis sent to replace the Arab officers who resigned are paid 40 percent more. The higher salaries mean the ministry can afford to deploy fewer officers.
Bar-Lev said that the number of police stations in the administered territories has been reduced from 12 to seven. Further reductions are being considered.
The cutbacks are especially serious, because the Defense Ministry has recently decided to pull army troops out of certain heavily Arab areas in the territories and replace them with border police units.
The police minister also disclosed that the number of anti-Israel incidents perpetrated by Arabs inside the country’s pre-1967 borders quadrupled in 1988.
But he added that the relative calm on Land Day last week showed that the police have the situation in hand.