The joint committee of the Constitution Committee and the National Security Committee has begun preparing for first reading the proposal to amend the Penal Law, known as the Protection Law, led by National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir through MK Yitzhak Kreuzer of his faction.
According to the initiators of the law, the proposal will solve the problem of the lack of definition that currently exists in the Penal Law: there is difficulty in proving the offense, and mainly there is difficulty in proving the causal connection between the act of extortion (the demand to transfer money from the business owner to the criminal) and the implied threats given by the offender against the business owner.
The new proposal stipulates that a person who receives money regularly from a business owner without providing service in return for the business owner and without an explanation of the nature of the funds will be considered a threat to that business owner. It is also proposed to state that the threat does not have to be explicit and direct to be considered a threat.
In addition, the bill is supposed to increase the penalties imposed on those convicted of protection, and also determine that the act constitutes a civil wrong.
Ben-Gvir and Kroiser seek to derive a media coupon for a war on protection, but along the way they ignore the opinion of the attorney general and the situation on the ground.
As the attorney general's representatives noted in the discussions, even if the bill is passed, criminals will succeed in continuing to take protection money from businesses, or in the euphemism of the jurists: "In discussions on this subject in various forums... It emerged that the most appropriate and effective solution to reduce the phenomenon does not lie in focusing on harsher punishment, but in strengthening and utilizing the given enforcement tools."
In other words, Ben-Gvir and Kroiser are trying to solve the problem by the wrong means, for image reasons.
Without enforcement on the ground, the situation will not change. Without patrols and surveillance, it will not be possible to catch the criminals. The obvious solution is to significantly expand enforcement and increase policing measures in areas prone to riots.
If Ben-Gvir and Kreuser want to get into the thick of it, they should have even worked to establish a special unit to fight the phenomenon of protection, such as the special units in the police that specialize in one type of crime (drug smugglers, car theft).
This unit will be primarily responsible for patrolling and observing areas prone to riots and apprehending criminals in real time.
Such a unit will be able to conduct proactive operations in areas prone to calamity. In the past, there were statements about the establishment of such a unit, but it was not established.
The bill being discussed in the Knesset will not lead to a real solution, since it attempts to circumvent the state's need to act on a solution that requires investing money and dealing with the problem in a real way.
The problem of taking protection fees is first and foremost a problem of lack of policing and enforcement.
As enforcement increases, the amount of protection fees will be reduced.
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