By Alexander J. Apfel/TPS
Beitar Illit (TPS) – In an effort to bolster security in the ultra-Orthodox city of Beitar Illit, located in Judea, which has experienced several knife attacks, the city municipality announced that a sale of handguns and various gun accessories will take place on Wednesday evening, January 6 in the Matnas on 2 Breslev Street. Representatives from the area’s security division will provide assistance to those seeking a gun license.
“Due to the current security situation, there will be a discount sale this evening in Beitar Illit where Glock handguns, accessories and holsters will be sold at extremely cheap prices. Representatives from the security division of the town will also provide assistance to applicants for gun licences,” related a local announcement.
In an interview with TPS, a Beitar Illit municipality spokesperson, who asked to be unnamed, explained that residents of the city should acquire guns for self defense as the community is flanked by three Arab villages in the Gush Etzion bloc. A terror attack back in November was perpetuated by an Arab villager from the local Husan village.
“Beitar Illit is located in Gush Etzion. The whole of Israel is in a stormy period and a large majority of Beitar Illit residents don’t carry a weapon,” the spokesperson said. He added that the precarious security situation combined with the cultural and religious nature of Beitar Illit rendered the area a particularly sensitive target for terrorist attacks.
“It is a haredi town so most of the residents don’t do the army, they don’t understand guns but they do want to. Therefore the municipality decided to put on an advisory evening where license forms will be distributed and explanations will be given on what they need to do to acquire a gun.”
The spokesperson also said that many of the terrorist attacks attempted or carried out thus far were thwarted by civilians who carried a gun. However, given that there is a conspicuously low number of civilians who have a licence to bear a firearm, “security guards, the police and ministers have called upon the residents to carry weapons. The people themselves understand the need also,” he said.
He added that “more and more people are applying for weapons throughout Israel.” Indeed, statistics shared with TPS by a spokesperson at the Ministry of Public Security seem to corroborate that many people in Israel do see the need to acquire a gun license.
According to the ministry, between October and December 2015, there were 13,124 applications for a gun license, of which 7,500 were approved. Between the months of May and July 2015, there were just 1,500 applications.
In the beginning of October as the terror cycle escalated, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, called upon civilians who were legally permitted to own a gun to carry them in the streets.
“Every time there is tension, I instruct people who are licensed to carry weapons and are experienced in using them to carry their guns with them. You’ll see that in many cases, those who neutralized terrorists were citizens who weren’t necessarily police officers,” Barkat told Army Radio.