TERRORISMIsrael to Enact New Counterterrorism Measures After Attacks

Published 30 January 2023

In the wake of deadly weekend terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, the Israeli government has said it would seek to speed up the process for citizens to obtain firearms.

Israel’s Security Cabinet agreed on new counterterrorism measures on Saturday evening, in response to deadly shootings in East Jerusalem this week, which the Israeli government labeled as terrorist incidents.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged a “strong, swift and precise” response following the deadly attacks, as the Israeli military also sent more troops into the West Bank.

On Friday, a Palestinian gunman opened fire outside a synagogue in East Jerusalem, killing seven people and wounding several others before he was shot and killed by the police, according to Israeli police and health officials. Police officials have referred to the shooting as “one of the worst terror attacks in recent years.”

Less than 24 hours later, Israeli police said a 13-year-old Palestinian boy opened fire on a group of five people in East Jerusalem. Two men were injured in the attack on Saturday morning. The teen was “neutralized and injured,” Israeli police said. 

Netanyahu’s Security Cabinet convened on Saturday evening, where a series of new measures were drawn up. “Whoever tries to harm us — we will harm them and everyone who assists them,” Netanyahu said in a statement to open the meeting.

The Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates condemned the new measures as “gross violations of international law” in a statement. It also blamed Israel for escalating tensions in the region.

What Are the New Measures?
Israel’s Security Cabinet released a statement on Facebook, saying the steps were meant “to fight terrorism and exact a price from terrorists and those who support them.”

One measure calls for the expedition of the sealing and demolition of the homes of individuals who carry out terrorist attacks, starting with that of the 21-year-old Palestinian who carried out the deadly attack outside a synagogue in East Jerusalem on Friday.

Additionally, the Israeli government would revoke national insurance rights and additional benefits for “the families of terrorists.” Likewise, the government plans to discuss the revocation of Israeli identity cards for the families of terrorists.

Aside from reinforcing military and police units, Netanyahu’s government also announced it will submit later this week steps to “strengthen” settlements in response to not only the attacks but also the “celebrations in their wake.” The statement did not provide details on how settlement policy would be strengthened.

One of the key measures agreed by Netanyahu’s Security Council was the expedition and expansion of firearm licensing, to “enable thousands of additional citizens to carry weapons.”

As we have seen time and again, this saves lives,” Netanyahu said in regard to expanding fireman licensing.

Increased Demand for Gun Licenses
Currently, owning a gun in Israel requires that an individual fulfill certain preconditions, such as being a citizen or permanent resident.

The ages of eligibility range from a minimum age of 18 for citizens or permanent residents who have completed compulsory military service, while Israeli citizens with no military service experience need to be at least 27 years of age.

Firearms training, basic knowledge of Hebrew and a doctor’s health declaration are also requirements, according to Israel’s Ministry of Public Security.

Additionally, firearms licenses are granted only to those who live in certain locations, who have certain occupations or need them for specific purposes.

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the processing time last year for a firearms license took approximately two weeks on average. Since then, it has increased to four months, due to the large amount of requests received after various terror-related incidents, the paper reported.

Israel’s new national security minister, ultra-nationalist politician Itamar Ben-Gvir, has previously called for expediting the gun licensing process and removing roadblocks from various renewal processes.

When civilians have guns, they can defend themselves,” Ben-Gvir told reporters in Jerusalem on Saturday, according to the AFP news agency.

This article is published courtesy of Deutsche Welle (DW).