PM tells licensed Israeli owners to carry their guns amid ‘murderous terror wave’
Bennett urges the public to ‘show composure, remain resilient,’ as he bolsters security forces and vows to crack down on terror groups and illegal weapons
Tobias (Toby) Siegal is a breaking news editor and contributor to The Times of Israel.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Wednesday called on licensed Israeli gun owners to arm themselves in public as he detailed various measures being taken in the wake of three deadly terror attacks over the past week.
“Citizens of Israel, we are currently experiencing a wave of murderous terrorism,” Bennett said in a video statement.
“What is expected of you, citizens of Israel? Alertness and responsibility. Open your eyes. Whoever has a license to carry a weapon, this is the time to carry it,” he said.
On Tuesday, a Palestinian terrorist killed five people in Bnei Brak. Earlier attacks in Hadera, on Sunday, and Beersheba, last Tuesday, killed six Israelis. The spate of violence marked Israel’s highest toll in terror attacks in such a short time since 2006.
Bennett said the Israel Defense Forces and wider security establishment have taken immediate steps to improve intelligence for preventing the next attack.
“The IDF, the Shin Bet and the Israel Police have significantly increased their intelligence operations in order to reach, in a timely manner, those who are planning to carry out attacks,” he said. “We have also reinforced the presence throughout the country of those in uniform and those carrying weapons.”
The prime minister added that police have shifted to working in an emergency capacity and that the IDF will reinforce police units “with 15 companies of our best soldiers.”
Other reinforcements to law enforcement include a new response unit of police motorcycles, the type of unit that eliminated the terrorist in Bnei Brak on Tuesday, he noted.
The Border Police will be reinforced with three additional companies as well, including one positioned near the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli military stationed in the West Bank and along the seam line was reinforced with 15 battalions, “a very considerable force,” Bennett noted.
“As of now, our forces have carried out more than 200 investigation or arrest operations. The home of the terrorist in Ya’abad has already been mapped for demolition and we are working to demolish it as soon as possible in order to create deterrence,” he said.
He also ordered a crackdown on illegal weapons in Arab communities, and against anyone with ties to Islamic State, including with preventive arrests. The attackers in Hadera and Beersheba have both claimed ties to the Jihadist group.
“There is no limit on resources” that should go toward tackling terrorism, Bennett stated.
He said most soldiers in mandatory, career, and reserve service will carry their weapons home when on leave from base, which is usually optional or not allowed by most units.
Bennett’s statements mark the second apparent shift in Israel’s stance toward gun ownership since last week.
After the deadly Beersheba terror attack that claimed the lives of four Israelis, police said they would ease gun policies for civilians involved in neutralizing terrorists, after sparking a minor controversy by temporarily confiscating pistols from civilians who shot the terrorist as part of their investigation.
Under the new procedure, police said a civilian whose gun is taken to be forensically examined after they were involved in neutralizing a terrorist would be accompanied home by police officers, and a new handgun would be issued for them in an expedited procedure.
Bennett urged the Israeli public to remain strong amid the deadliest terror wave to hit the country since the Second Intifada.
“Citizens of Israel, we are currently experiencing a wave of murderous terrorism and, just like in all the previous waves, we will prevail, together,” he said.
“This is neither our first nor our second wave of terrorism. We have experience with struggle. Israeli society, when it is tested, knows how to show composure, remain resilient, and rise to the occasion. We cannot be broken.”