Israel Table of Contents
Law enforcement was entrusted to a single national police force, called simply the Israel Police, which had a personnel strength of 20,874 men and women in 1986. The Israel Police had responsibility for preventing and detecting crime; apprehending suspects, charging them, and bringing them to trial; keeping law and order; and traffic control. Since 1974 the police had also controlled internal security, especially the prevention of border infiltration and terrorism. With the abolition of the Ministry of Police in 1977, the Israel Police came under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Interior. The minister of interior appointed the police commanding officer, the inspector general. Since 1967 Israeli police have functioned in the occupied territories under the authority of the military governors. In March 1988, after the murder of one Arab policeman, at least half of the 1,000 Palestinian police in the occupied territories heeded leaflets and radio broadcasts calling upon them to resign.
The country was divided into four police districts and a number of subdistricts. The heavily populated metropolitan area of Tel Aviv constituted one district that was divided into three subdistricts. The Southern District, with six subdistricts, comprised central and southern Israel down to the Negev Desert. The Northern District, with five subdistricts, included Haifa, Galilee, and the coastal area north of Tel Aviv. A fourth district was formed in the Negev following the return to Egypt of the Sinai Peninsula as part of the Camp David Accords in 1979. The occupied territories were divided between the northern and southern districts.
The subdistricts exercised authority over individual police stations. Most operations, including the investigation of crimes, were carried out at the police station level, subject to guidance from the appropriate functional bureau of the national headquarters in Jerusalem. The principal bureaus of national headquarters were Operations (patrolling, traffic, and internal security); Investigation (criminal investigation, intelligence, criminal identification, fraud); and Administration (personnel, training, communications, finance). These bureaus had counterparts at the district level.
Data as of December 1988