Middle East Monitor / June 8, 2023
Palestinians in the occupied territories have condemned the proposal by Israel’s extreme far-right Minister of National Security to issue more arms licenses to Israeli Jews, Safa news agency has reported. Opponents of Itamar Ben-Gvir’s plan say that it provides “justification” for the killing of more Palestinians living under Israel’s brutal military occupation.
According to Ben-Gvir’s plan, anyone who has served in the Israeli occupation army will be able to apply for a license to carry a weapon, as well as those who volunteered for first aid service and those who studied in Jewish settlements, meaning all of the 700,000+ illegal Jewish settlers. Applicants for licenses will be “exempt from being interviewed”; the only requirement will be to submit a health check and get the approval of the Israeli police.
“It is clear that Ben-Gvir is trying to subjugate the Palestinian people everywhere,” said Sami Abu Shehadeh, the head of the National Democratic Assembly (Balad). “He is trying to do this to the people of this land through violence.”
He and others have linked the announcement of Ben-Gvir’s plan to the warnings by senior Israeli police officers about the possibility of an armed uprising against the Israeli occupation. “However, this extremist appears to be ignorant, and does not know anything about the Palestinian people, who are determined and only grow stronger in the face of such challenges.”
Ben-Gvir needs a majority of Knesset members to vote for his plan. As a member of the ruling coalition, a majority vote is available to him. According to Abu Shehadeh, this means that this will be an Israeli plan, not just that of an individual.
The deputy head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Sheikh Kamal al-Khatib, said that the possibility of an armed uprising in the occupied Palestinian territories has been “exaggerated” in order to justify the arming of more Israelis, especially the settlers, many of whom are already armed in any case.
“Demanding that Jews in Israel should carry weapons, and issuing permits to them, is a justification for killing anyone who is a Palestinian,” Al-Khatib told Safa.
He made his comments in front of the Israeli court where the trial of the settler who killed Diyar Omri took place. “Ben-Gvir wants Israeli Jews and settlers to take up arms in order to kill any Palestinian at any moment, in any dispute, and for any reason. This is what happened with the martyr Omri.”
More than 150,000 Jews in the occupied Palestinian territories hold a license to carry arms. The figure does not include the paramilitary occupation police, border guards and other security personnel.
All of Israel’s settlements and the settlers who live in them are illegal under international law.