Itamar Ben Gvir
Itamar Ben GvirYonatan Sindel/Flash90

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir on Tuesday implemented the first phase of a plan to distribute thousands of firearms throughout the Israeli public.

As part of the plan, the Ministry of National Security has purchased four thousand Israeli-made rifles to be distributed to the local security teams of various towns and cities.

Several accounts of the battles near the Gaza border tell how local security teams or armed civilians were able to hold off the Hamas invasion long enough for help to arrive or the unarmed to escape. Among them was MK Almog Cohen (Otzma Yehudit) who joined other members of his town of Ofakim in hours of firefights until the terrorists had been repelled.

The project to arm and enlist the civilian population will be overseen by retired police captain Shimon Lavi.

Other steps in the program include an accelerated handgun licensing process using telephone interviews instead of frontal visits to the Ministry offices and relaxing the standards according to which civilians may be issued firearms by their towns for the purposes of guard duty.

Additionally, the Israel Police have been ordered to distribute firearms to the maximum possible extent among police volunteers and assist local authorities by supplementing any ammunition deficits in civilian armories.

An information sheet has been circulated on social media to remind volunteers in some Israeli organizations, such as the MDA or Fire and Rescue service, that their volunteer work makes them eligible for personal handgun licenses even if they do not meet some of the other requirements. Similarly, IDF veterans with combat training have received notices that they may be eligible for a personal handgun license or to be issued a government rifle for guard duty.

The Ministry encourages civilians interested in acquiring firearms to check with their civilian security coordinator, reserve duty coordinator, or local police station to find out if they are eligible.