As part of the National Security Ministry’s effort to arm the citizens’ standby units throughout the country, Minister Itamar Ben Gvir on Friday monitored the distribution of weapons to volunteers in the standby unit in Beer Sheva. Ben Gvir stressed the importance of equipping the standby squads with long weapons that may save lives and are an important force multiplier for the police and security forces.
Not so long ago, on March 29, Calcalist, the economic daily of Yedioth Aharonoth, mocked National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir (Ben Gvir’s police will cost billions, compete with the police and take years to establish): “The Dream Guard of the Minister of National Security Ben Gvir is already established in the police, is budgeted in hundreds of millions of shekels and has thousands of employment spots. Former senior police officers warn against transferring the guard to a politician: ‘Like the Revolutionary Guards in Iran or the Phalanxes in Lebanon.’”
To remind you, in the 10/7 Hamas surprise attack on the Gaza envelope settlements, the standby squads were for the better time of the first 8 hours the only defenders of the residents against the terrorists’ infiltration. The standby units acted alone for many hours without the support of the IDF or the police, and, in fact, police patrol cars were documented escaping the onslaught of armed terrorists. In several settlements, the standby squads managed to repel the attackers.
Ben Gvir’s plan, which police brass loathed and viewed as encroaching on their turf, was to recruit 1,800 individuals in the most vulnerable communities around Israel, organize and arm them well at a cost of NIS 1.5 billion ($370 million).
Calcalist cited former senior police officials, as well as folks from the Lapid-Bennett internal security ministry, who warned that Ben Gvir was plotting to establish his own militia that he could order around outside the purview of the police, the border guard, and the IDF.
Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai told Ynet that handing over the new entity––designed to launch forces to deal with civil violence incidents throughout the country––to the chairman of Otzma Yehudit could lead to the “destruction of personal security, waste of resources, and disintegration of the Israel Police from within.”
In Zikim on 10/7, a terrorist squad arrived at the outskirts of the kibbutz and planned to launch an RPG missile and penetrate the settlement. The standby squad opened fire on them and managed to disrupt the plans. They threw in grenades and explosives but were stopped. Two members of the standby squad were injured.
In Yad-Mordechai, the members of the standby squad went out toward the terrorist squad that arrived at the intersection at the entrance to the kibbutz and opened fire on them. The squad fled to Sderot, and the kibbutz was saved, without casualties.
In Erez, the members of the standby squad were able to spot the approaching terrorists, deployed well around the kibbutz, and conducted a shootout against them for hours. One kibbutz member, Amir Naim, 27, Hy’d was killed.
In Nir-Am, the terrorists reached the kibbutz hatchery. Under the command of security officer Inbal Lieberman, the members of the standby unit organized in time, opened fire on the invaders, killed at least two, and prevented their entry.
The list is long and proves without a shadow of a doubt: Itamar Ben Gvir was right to demand the establishment of a civilian national guard, and the mainstream media that accused him of anti-democratic ambitions should beg his forgiveness.
One might ask, how come, then, Itamar Ben Gvir, who foresaw the catastrophe, is kept out of Netanyahu’s war cabinet, while Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot, two IDF chiefs of staff who cut the infantry in half and invented the concept of Hamas abandoning its designs against Israel, continue to be on the inside?
Now, the National Security Ministry is boosting the standby units and is establishing new standby units across the country in the rural and urban areas. It has purchased some 7,000 assault rifles for them, along with helmets and protective vests, and is establishing an estimated 566 new standby units.
Another wise move by Ben Gvir was to liberalize the process of obtaining a firearm permit. Since Ben Gvir took office in January, the national security ministry has issued some 26,000 carry licenses, compared to his predecessor, Omer Bar Lev (Labor) who 2022 approved only 12,897 permits, and in 2021 only 10,064.
Since the outbreak of hostilities, some 100,000 applications for gun permits have been received by the ministry, which expanded the categories of both the individuals who qualify to receive a permit and the geographical areas whose residents receive preferential treatment in obtaining a permit.
Incidentally, on Monday, Minister Ben Gvir expressed his strong objection to letting day workers from the Palestinian Authority into Israel, warning that they are being incited by their religious leaders to attack Jews. And no one, not even the police who still views him as a territorial threat to their turf, dared to object.
Give ‘em hell, Itamar!