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The Third Intifada?
Israeli Requests for Gun Permits Soar

Faced with a wave of knife violence, a soaring number of Israelis are applying for gun permits. The Times of London reports:

Gun permit applications are soaring as Israelis arm themselves amid the Palestinian unrest that has claimed 21 lives this month and injured some 1,300 people.

The public security ministry said yesterday that requests for a weapon licence had jumped by “a double-digit percentage” and police have had to deploy extra staff to cope with the demand.

Israel has strict rules on gun ownership, with background checks and a mental health examination required before a permit is issued. The restrictions are looser for residents of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and other areas deemed to be at high risk of unrest.

Gilad Erdan, the public security minister, said that he wanted to relax the rules further. “Clearly we cannot assign a police officer to protect every citizen,” he said. “So self-defence is vital.”

About 150,000 Israelis have permits, down by half since the 1990s, according to police.

According to the Washington Post, Israelis who already have guns are also rushing to shooting ranges. Many Israelis with weapons permits are ex-soldiers or reservists.

As Avi Issacharoff recently pointed out in an op-ed in the Times of Israel, it seems there’s frustratingly little to nothing the government can do in Jerusalem to make this better, because the attackers are too diffuse and too apolitical (in that they don’t particularly care about the status of relations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, and are often not part of a specific movement—they’re mainly young and stoked by social media). So when attackers become decentralized like this, perhaps, many Israelis seem to be thinking, so too must the defense?

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  • Andrew Allison

    If the state cannot protect the individual, then self-protection seems an intelligent response (and “gun control” — code for disarming the citizenry — advocates are p—ing up a rope).

  • Fat_Man

    I was in Israel about 8 years ago. I saw plenty of Israelis carrying pistols openly. Also, Israeli soldiers on duty, which includes most Israelis age 18-20 who are in uniform carry their rifles even off base. All Israeli citizens (except some haredis) are required to serve in the Army, 3 years for men, 2 years for women. So, most of them have had weapons training.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Interesting bit of trivia: Israeli soldiers who are off-duty are often seen on the roads hitchhiking during their leaves. They carry their weapons, but are supposed to carry them unloaded in order to avoid incidents. A VERY popular ‘accessory’ for these soldiers is the ‘hitchhikers clip’, a 2-3 round magazine (depending upon the design) that fits into the receiver but doesn’t appear to leave the weapon loaded. This has come in handy for soldiers on more than one occasion when the bad guys attempt to kill or kidnap lone hitchhikers. Despite some fairly unsubtle recommendations to avoid these accessories, I don’t know of many Israeli soldiers who don’t have one.

    • InklingBooks

      I’ve seen those rifles carried by active-duty soldiers boarding Arab buses at checkpoints. The downside to that is very obvious. On a crowded bus, any nearby passenger can deflect the barrel, making them almost useless for anything but intimidation. For crowds, a pistol is far better. It’s much easier to retain control of it.

  • iconoclast

    One hopes that distributing defense will result in fewer Israeli deaths and faster attacker deaths. At some point the Arab attackers will either figure it out or be removed from society.

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