It will now be easier for Israelis to carry firearms for self-defense in the wake of the worst terror attack in the nation’s history.
Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir announced on Sunday he has ordered officials responsible for issuing gun licenses to broaden its standards. As the death toll inflicted by terror group Hamas grew to over 600, Ben-Gvir said he wants more Israelis to be able to legally arm themselves.
“Today I directed the Firearms Licensing Division to go on an emergency operation in order to allow as many citizens as possible to arm themselves,” he posted, according to a Google translation. “The plan will take effect within 24 hours.”
The policy change comes after Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israelis that saw terrorists carry out the brutal murder and mutilation of men, women, and children. Many more were injured or kidnapped. Israel has declared war on Hamas and begun carrying out airstrikes in Gaza, but it remains unclear if all of the terror group’s fighters have even been expelled from the towns they ransacked at this point.
The move to arm Israeli civilians in the wake of a vicious invasion mirrors that of the Ukranian government last year. As the Russian Army approached Kyiv last February, the government distributed 10,000 rifles to civilians hoping to stem the tide. The Ukrainian Army, bolstered by civilian resistance, eventually pushed Russians away from their capital city.
Israel’s plan is more reserved than distributing rifles on the street to all comers. Instead, Ben-Gvir said the country would loosen its gun-carry requirements. Still, he said the changes should allow thousands of Israelis to get and carry guns within the next week.
The first change is moving from an in-person interview to a phone interview for gun-carry applicants.
“Any citizen who meets the detailed tests for carrying a private firearm due to self-defense and serving the security forces and is without a criminal or medical record will be required to undergo a telephone interview instead of a physical interview and will be able to receive permission to carry a firearm within a week,” Ben-Gvir said. “(Self-defense tests: residence in an eligible settlement, rifle veterans 07 and above, officers in the rank of lieutenant and above and combatants in the rank of major and above in the IDF and the security forces, service in special units, firefighters, policemen, and workers and volunteers in the rescue forces).”
The second change allows anyone who had a permit to purchase a firearm in 2023 but didn’t do so before the license expired to buy a gun without going through the process. He estimated that would apply to 4,000 citizens.
He said another 1,800 citizens would also be allowed to retrieve a gun they were forced to give up in the last six months because the owner didn’t get “refresher training or renewal training.”
He also raised the ammunition purchase limit for “conditional permits to carry firearms” from 50 to 100.
“I thank the members of the Firearms Licensing Division, the Civil Response Department of the Israel Police, and the employees of the Ministry of Health for the very important commitment that will allow as many citizens as possible to arm themselves and protect themselves and their environment when necessary,” Ben-Gvir said.