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
Data as of December 1988