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Subordinate Forces

The Border Police, a paramilitary force of about 5,000 men, was part of the Israel Police and reported directly to the inspector general. Its primary mission was to patrol the northern border and the occupied territories to guard against infiltration and guerrilla attacks. It also provided security to ports and airports. Border Police units were available to assist regular police in controlling demonstrations and strikes. With a reputation for rigorous enforcement of the law, the Border Police often behaved in a manner that caused resentment among the Arab population. The Border Police recruited among Druze and Arab Christian minorities for operations in Arab areas. The Special Operational Unit of the Border Police was intensively trained and equipped to deal with major terrorist attacks but was reportedly underused because the army continued to handle this mission in spite of the formal transfer of the internal security function to the police.

Civil defense units of the army reserve also formed an auxiliary force that through daytime foot patrols assisted the police in crime prevention, surveillance against sabotage, and public order. The Civil Guard, founded after the October 1973 War, was a force of more than 100,000 volunteers, including women and high school students. Its primary activities were nighttime patrolling of residential areas, keeping watch on the coastline, manning roadblocks, and assisting the police during public events. Civil Guard patrols were armed with rifles.

Recruitment and training criteria for police resembled those for military service. The minimal education requirement for constables was ten years of schooling, although, with the rising level of education and increasingly sophisticated nature of police work, most recruits met more than the minimum standards. Low police wages in relation to other employment opportunities and the poor public image of the police contributed to the force's chronic inability to fill its ranks. Since new immigrants tended to be available as potential recruits, fluency in Hebrew was not a condition for employment, although a special course helped such recruits achieve a working knowledge of the language. Somewhat more than 15 percent of the Israel Police were women, most of whom were assigned to clerical work, juvenile and family matters, and traffic control. Women were not assigned to patrol work.

It was possible to enter the police force at any one of four levels--senior officer, officer, noncommissioned officer, or constable--depending on education and experience. Except for certain specialized professionals, such as lawyers and accountants who dealt with white collar offenses, most police entering as officers had relevant military experience and had held equivalent military ranks.

Advancement was based principally on success in training courses, and to a lesser degree on seniority and the recommendation of the immediate superior officer. Assignment to the officers' training course was preceded by a rigorous selection board interview.

The National Police School at Shefaraam, southwest of Nazareth, offered courses on three levels: basic training, command training, and technical training. The six-month basic training course covered language and cultural studies, the laws of the country, investigation, traffic control, and other aspects of police work. Command training for sergeants (six months) and officers (ten months) included seminar-type work and on-the-job experience in investigation, traffic, patrolling, and administration. The Senior Officers' College offered an eight-month program in national policy, staff operations, criminology, sociology, and internal security. Technical courses of varying duration covered such specialized areas as investigations, intelligence, narcotics, and traffic.

The Israel Police traditionally has placed less emphasis on physical fitness, self-defense, and marksmanship than police organizations in other countries. A special school for physical fitness, however, was introduced in the 1980s. Another innovation during this period was the postponement of the six-month basic course until after a recruit completed a six-month internship with several experienced partners. The only preparation for the initial field experience was a ten-day introductory course on police jurisdiction. The internship phase weeded out recruits who could not adapt to police work. Moreover, the recruit then had the option of choosing one of the two areas of concentration into which the basic course was divided--patrol, traffic, and internal security, or investigation and intelligence.

Data as of December 1988

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