Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai spoke this morning (Monday) at the lawyers' association conference and addressed the protests surrounding the legal reform. In his remarks, he revealed that, according to police estimates, between 6 to 7 million citizens participated in the protests at 4,400 locations, cared for by approximately 70,000 police officers.
It is also stated that the estimates include both protests against the reform and protests in favor of the reform.
"The police operate under my guidance to allow for the maximum realization of the right to protest while minimizing interference with the freedom of movement and the daily lives of citizens," said Shabtai. "The police's handling of the protests should be recorded in the pages of history. I am proud that in recent months, we have succeeded in maintaining the police as an apolitical entity that operates without bias."
"We are in a challenging time"
In his speech, the Police Commissioner stated that "We are facing a challenging period, as all of you, like me, see and hear the reality that the police are dealing with these days. Shortage of manpower, lack of resources, and extreme levels of violence, coupled with the constant criticism from various sources, add to the burden on Israel's law enforcement. The powers of the police have been played with in an unusual manner in the last 15 years, in intelligence, surveillance, investigations, and in the field of intelligence, all while criminals become more sophisticated."
The Police Commissioner also addressed what is happening in the Arab sector, stating, "We cannot ignore the number of fatalities and casualties resulting from violence in the Arab society. It is criminal terrorism claiming victims almost every day. The Israel Police is operating at full capacity to combat this terrorism." He then provided statistics, saying, "We have prevented 58 murders, 44 of them in the Arab sector. We seized significant quantities of illegal firearms, 1,956 firearms in 2023, representing a 31% increase compared to the same period last year. Additionally, we confiscated 3,379 unlicensed firearms, marking a 73% increase."
Shabtai also addressed the violent riots that occurred in Tel Aviv on Saturday, saying, "We encountered an extreme threshold of violence. Surveillance forces were placed in real-life danger and had to use live fire. From my perspective, red lines were crossed here. We will not allow harm to police officers, and we will pursue legal action against all the disrupting offenders."