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Ben Gvir details role of his National Guard to ‘fight terror, restore governance’

Jeremy Sharon is The Times of Israel’s legal affairs and settlements reporter

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir attends a rally in support of the government's planned judicial overhaul, in Jerusalem on March 27, 2023. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir attends a rally in support of the government's planned judicial overhaul, in Jerusalem on March 27, 2023. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir intends to establish a National Guard gendarmerie force under his own authority as minister, with a government resolution to enact the measure set to be brought before the cabinet on Sunday.

According to the text of the resolution published this evening, the role of the National Guard will be to tackle “nationalist crime,” terrorism and “restore governance where needed.”

Ben Gvir, who heads the far-right, ultranationalist Otzma Yehudit party, has talked repeatedly about “restoring governance” to the Negev which suffers from high levels of crime and has a prominent Arab Bedouin community, while sources close to him have said the National Guard will also seek to “restore governance” in mixed Jewish-Arab cities such as Lod and Ramle.

“A National Guard is a basic critical need for the State of Israel, without which we will not be able to protect the security of our citizens in order to fight terrorism, the phenomenon of protection, nationalist crime and restore governance to the cities of Israel,” says Ben Gvir in a statement announcing the decision.

Civil rights groups, as well as opposition politicians, have denounced the notion of having any police force, including the National Guard, come under the direct authority of the minister, saying it could undermine the principle of equality in law enforcement and effectively be a private militia.

Following approval of the government resolution, Ben Gvir will establish a committee comprising numerous officials from the police and defense networks, which will present its recommendations for the implementation of the resolution within 60 days.

The National Guard will have an initial budget of over NIS 1 billion and has openings for 2,000 recruits.

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