Expect to see more armed Israelis on the streets in the coming days following a series of weekend terrorist attacks targeting Jews in and around Jerusalem.
On Friday night, an Arab resident of eastern Jerusalem waited outside a synagogue until the weekly prayer service had ended and then shot and killed seven Jewish worshippers.
On Saturday morning, a 13-year-old Arab boy opened fire on Jews in the City of David at the southern end of Jerusalem’s Old City. Two people, a father and son, were seriously wounded.
Security camera footage of the City of David shooting:
Later that evening, Palestinian terrorists opened fire at a restaurant frequented by Israeli Jews on the road from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea. The shooters quickly fled when their gun jammed after just one shot had been fired. There were no injuries.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said he wants to see more Israelis armed to both provide a deterrent to Arab terror, and so that people on the scene can more quickly respond without needing to wait for police or soldiers to arrive.
“We must change the firearm policies,” insisted Ben-Gvir, noting that since becoming a Cabinet minister he is no longer permitted to carry a personal weapon.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved a new policy to expedite and expand the licensing process, but warned Israelis against vigilantism. “We must act decisively and calmly, I urge people not to take the law into their own hands,” he said following Friday night’s attack.
The reaction of Ben-Gvir and Netanyahu echoed a call less than a year ago by former-Prime Minister Naftali Bennett for responsible, licensed gun owners to walk the streets armed amidst a wave of Palestinian terror plaguing Israel at that time.
Israelis with valid gun permits who planned to visit synagogues on Saturday morning were encouraged to arrive armed. And messages sent on Sunday morning to residents of many towns and villages surrounding Jerusalem stressed that gun permit holders should remain armed at all times.
Contrary to the popular notion of a society armed to the teeth, Israel has relatively restrictive gun control policies. The Jewish state is not awash in personal firearms, and only around 200,000 or so private citizens have a license to carry. Those wishing to purchase a gun must demonstrate a need for such a weapon, and are limited in the amount of ammunition they can obtain each year.
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