Local security coordinators with their weapons
Local security coordinators with their weapons Regavim

Following years during which local first responder security units were closed and the lack of local security coordinators only became more apparent, even during periods of heightened terrorist activity, there are indications that things are beginning to change, in the Jerusalem region at least.

According to the Israel Hayom newspaper, last week Border Police held a training session focused on the establishment of new security units in the community of Alon, and in the next few months, Border Police intend to train security units in more than 12 communities in the greater Jerusalem region and also to regularize the activities of local security coordinators, streamlining their work in conjunction with the army in order to fill in gaps in security provision.

The communities concerned were already defined in 2001, when the government decided on a division of tasks between the army and Border Police, with overall responsibility handed over to the latter. However, the final arrangements have remained unfinished until now, leaving residents complaining that their security fell through the cracks, with the Border Police charged with arrangements yet deprived of the means to do so.

In 2017, the IDF held a special discussion to which Police representatives were not even invited. At this discussion, the decision was made to recategorize the Jerusalem area communities as "homefront" rather than "front-line," despite the fact that they were especially vulnerable to attack from Judea and Samaria. Only recently was this situation rectified.

In 2019, the IDF dismantled the local security units and ordered all their weapons collected, in advance of transferring authority to the Border Police. However, given that the Border Police did not step into the breach, the communities were left with only partial security provisions in place.

Last week's practice session in Alon appears to be a sign that the situation is to be rectified; the training session was the first to be held in seven years.

"If the issue were totally under our control, we could have the security units up and running within three days of training," said Border Police in a statement. "However, since the IDF still factors in various issues, the process is going to take somewhat longer. We hope that within half a year there will be functioning security units in 13 communities in the greater Jerusalem area."

Lists of candidates for membership in the security units are already being compiled in Maale Adumim, Har Adar, and Har Gilo, but there are tremendous gaps in terms of readiness between the various communities, many of which are severely lacking in weapons after 20 years during which the issue was neglected.

Meanwhile, several local security units are already operative even prior to undergoing adequate training. In addition, there are plans to designate the local security coordinators as non-commissioned police officers within the police force.