Israel police rejects minister’s demand to form National Guard under his control

Middle East Monitor  /  March 29, 2023

Senior officials in the Israeli police yesterday warned against National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s demand to form a National Guard force under his direct control in parallel to the work of the police.

On Monday, Ben-Gvir announced that he had agreed to back Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call for a pause on judicial overhaul legislation in exchange for a promise to create  his own “national guard”.

Ben-Gvir said he seeks to establish the volunteer national guard that would be deployed in times of “ethnic unrest”, such as the May 2021 Jewish-Palestinian riots that took place in some Israeli cities, during Israel’s war on the besieged Gaza Strip.

Israel’s Maariv newspaper yesterday quoted a senior police officer as saying that the police leaders completely oppose the minister’s demand, explaining that the police already has a National Guard force that operates within the framework of the Border Guard forces which includes 500 rapid intervention personnel, in addition to the Internal Security Brigade, which includes 350 soldiers, along with the formation of the reserve consisting of about 3,000 soldiers.

“In order to be able to establish such a force, you must enact a law in this regard, and I do not know in what context the minister will subject this force to his direct orders” the officer said, adding that Ben-Gvir can form a force, but on the condition that it is directly affiliated with the police and not under his direct command.

Ben-Gvir has recently complained that the police did not implement his orders, especially those related to suppressing protesters objecting to Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul plan.

Other opponents of the establishment of a new national guard, claim Ben-Gvir will use the force to target his opponents.

Israel’s Channel 12 reported a source from the police saying that this national guard will carry out several missions, including in the occupied West Bank, dealing with the protests in Israel and reinforcing forces near the northern borders.

“They are a special force and well-trained,” the source said.

The Marker, an Israeli economic outlet, said that the National Security Ministry had an extra budget to create the National Guard but only for one year.