Jewish Studies Crime and Policing in Israel
Dikla Yogev, Nomi Levenkron
  • LAST REVIEWED: 25 July 2023
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 July 2023
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199840731-0231


This article on policing and crime in Israel reflects the complex heterogeneous nature of the state of Israel as well as its police. The two largest minority communities in Israel are the Israeli Arabs (c. 21 percent) and the ultra-Orthodox Jews (c. 10 percent). Another group, although much smaller in size (c. 2 percent), is the Ethiopians. Due to Israel’s geopolitical and national history, the Arabs are perceived as a security threat by the public as well as by the police. Consequently, much of the research about minority policing focuses on policing the Arab society. Ethiopians are subject to similar discriminatory policing as the Arabs, but in their case the police are making greater efforts to rectify the situation. The ultra-Orthodox community has been responsible for most of the mass clashes with the state since its early days, despite or maybe due to the persistent ideological tension against the existence of the state that is accompanied with a growing integration into Israeli society. Israeli policing, which has received very little scholarly attention to date, has some similarities to and differences from police forces elsewhere. Similarities are seen in the steadily increasing number of women in police force (28 percent) as well as the number of women officers in senior positions. In addition, as in other police forces, there is growing success in recruitment of police officers from minority groups, especially Arabs, ultra-Orthodox, and Ethiopians. Yet, unlike other countries, the number of volunteer and military police officers in the Israeli police is alarmingly high, as such police officers tend to be older and tend to function according to military rather than civilian norms. Military service in the Israeli Defense Forces inevitably affects the way officers perceive Arab citizens, and it contributes to stress, burnout, and trauma. Moreover, the police are forbidden from striking, which affects employment conditions, the quality of the workforce, and morale.


This section discusses four subtopics on policing in Israel: the first focuses on historical aspects prior to the establishment of the state of Israel; and the other three focus on substantial topics such as general discussion, minority policing, and the sociology of the police.

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