Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90
Haredi resident of Beitar Illit at a gun range in Gush Etzion.

According to Israel’s Homeland Security Ministry, in the last two weeks, since the riots in the mixed cities, more than 2,700 civilians have applied for a firearms license.

In Israel, there are currently about 145,000 civilians with a personal weapons license, in addition to the security forces. Homeland Security Minister Amir Ohana recently extended a regulation that allows security guards to carry their weapons outside work hours. Ohana advocates making weapon possession easier, and last week tweeted: that “law-abiding citizens carrying weapons are a force-multiplier for the authorities, for immediate neutralization of threats and danger.” The police appear to support Ohana’s position.


The right-wing NGO B’Tzalmo posted a call to the residents of the mixed cities Lod and Ramla, where many of the Arab riots against Jewish homes and individuals had taken place, to seek the group’s assistance in acquiring a weapons license. The message read:

Residents of Lod and Ramla we are with you!
We undertake to represent free of charge any citizen who has graduated from military or national service who has applied for a weapon and was refused.
So go ahead and apply for a gun license, it’s simple and easy!
Share and tag this post, dear residents of Lod and Ramla!
In addition, as you understand, the cost of our fight is particularly high, since it is not a simple legal battle. We would be happy for any financial help in this matter.

So, kind of free of charge.

A senior law enforcement official told Haaretz that “the number of requests is enormous but makes sense in light of the security situation in the country.” According to him, the requests express “the public’s fear that in the moment of truth the police will not be there, and they prefer to defend themselves in case of danger to life. After the images we’ve seen in Lod, Ramla, and the Arab Triangle and the Negev, it makes sense for citizens to want to arm themselves to protect themselves and their families.”

Weapons stores across the country are reporting “hysterical” sales, according to Kan 11 News, with a rise of hundreds of percent in applications for a firearms license. Naftali Miller, of the Aroma Arms Tactical weapons company, told Kan 11, “People really feel that something is happening here. They feel they want the ability to defend themselves if they’ll have to.”

Religious Zionist man practicing at a gun range in Gush Etzion. / Nati Shohat/Flash90

Gun ranges around the country have been booked solid, and it’s been difficult to find a free target.

Gun laws in Israel are comprehensive despite soldiers being allowed to carry their service weapons on or off duty. Civilians must obtain a firearms license to lawfully acquire, possess, sell or transfer firearms and ammunition. In 2018, Israel significantly loosened firearms restrictions, allowing all citizens who had undergone combat training and qualified in Advanced Infantry Training (Rifleman 07) to apply for a private handgun license.

Those holding firearms licenses must renew them and pass a shooting course every three years. Security guards must pass these tests to renew their license to carry firearms belonging to their employers. Applicants must demonstrate that they have a safe at their residence in which to keep the firearm. Permits are given only for personal use, and holders for self-defense purposes may own only one handgun and purchase an annual supply of 50 cartridges (although more may be purchased to replace rounds used at a firing range).

Most individuals who are licensed to possess handguns may carry them loaded in public, concealed, or openly.

In recent years, criteria for obtaining a firearms license have been added, and today most applications are based on the criteria of service in a combat unit and residence in a locality near a fence or settlement.

The Ministry of Internal Security stated this week that “all the applications submitted have been received at the division’s service center and will be examined in the coming days prior to their transfer for further processing by the district licensing bureaus.”

According to data from the Homeland Security Ministry, about 60% of the applications are granted. The rest are rejected due to non-compliance with the criteria, refusal by the police to grant the license or opposition from the Ministry of Health.

Since the beginning of the Arab riots in Lod, the police have confiscated dozens of licensed weapons from Jews who came to the city to help the Jewish community defend itself. The police mainly fear that a Jew would use his weapon in a way that would lead to an escalation of the situation. Four Jewish residents of Lod were arrested on suspicion of murdering a resident of the city, Musa Hasson, who reportedly attacked them with a Molotov cocktail. The four, who carried licensed weapons, were detained for three days and released on restrictive conditions, and are being charged with negligent manslaughter.


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