Hundreds of guns and other military-issue equipment held in armories in Jewish towns throughout Samaria have been collected by the IDF in recent weeks. The weapons were held in reserve to be used by armed volunteer response teams from the communities in the event of attack.
No personal weapons have been confiscated, nor have emergency response teams been left unarmed.
The IDF Spokesman's Office, which confirmed the collection efforts, explained that only military-issue guns that are not in use have been collected. No personal weapons have been confiscated, nor have emergency response teams been left unarmed. Rather, the IDF emphasized, the guns collected have come from caches that have been untouched for a significant length of time.
"Let's say they're rusting away," an IDF spokesman told Arutz Sheva.
Accordingly, the gun collection program excluded those weapons currently issued to local security personnel and to members of emergency response teams in the Judea and Samaria region, according to the IDF. However, residents of the towns in question said that it was now impossible to obtain any new guns, even for those who have been volunteering with community emergency response teams for weeks prior to the latest collection efforts.
Army spokespeople noted that the confiscated weapons are to remain in IDF reserve armories for the time being. In case of emergency, according to officials, the guns will be distributed among reservists who served in combat units during their military service.
But some security personnel in the affected communities expressed concern that they will be left with little defense at the same time that the government has ordered the removal of dozens of roadblocks and blockades designed to restrict travel by Arab terrorists.
Part of a Larger Homeland Defense Reorganization
IDF insiders say that the collection of weapons and supplies is one part of a larger reorganization of the entire homeland defense structure in Judea and Samaria, which will ultimately provide the Jewish towns greater security, rather than less. The current efforts include assigning teams of combat reservists to specific areas and towns and establishing a clear division of operational responsibilities, as well as keeping clear track of weapons and supplies for more efficient distribution in case of emergency.
There are thousands of military-issue weapons in excess of what is necessary in the Jewish towns of Judea and Samaria, and they are not being maintained or monitored properly, according to an IDF source. Hence, a second rationale offered by officials for the weapons collection is the need to prevent thefts from community armories, which, they said, has been on the increase in recent months.
The weapon collection program follows a preliminary letter to community security chiefs issued in early December 2007. At the time, the security coordinators of the communities in Samaria were summoned to a meeting with IDF officers to discuss the reorganization plans.