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Arab-Israelis fear new bill to increase security guards' powers

A bill initiated by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan aimed at enlarging security guards’ responsibilities has sparked fear among Israeli-Arab bus drivers of an increase in violence against them.
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Next week, the Knesset's Interior Committee will debate a proposed piece of legislation by Minister for Public Security Gilad Erdan, which would expand the authority of civilian security guards. According to the proposal, security guards will be given powers similar to the police in that they will have the right to detain suspects, demand that they identify themselves and even use force to prevent them from entering crowded spaces such as shopping malls and public transportation. Erdan claims that the purpose of the law is to increase civilians' sense of safety in recreation centers and offices that provide services to citizens.

This proposed expansion of authority is an extension of the Body Search law (nicknamed "stop-and-frisk" bill), initiated by Erdan and approved by the Knesset in February 2015. This law expanded the authority of the police to search the body and possessions of any person if he is suspected of potentially acting violently, or if he threatens someone or assaults them verbally. At the time, the law came under widespread public criticism and was opposed by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI). As a result, it was eventually toned down so that the authority to conduct such searches was limited to instances in which there was "reasonable suspicion."

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