UN warned this Sunday of even further violence in Palestine if the Netanyahu government is to allow Israeli civilians to carry firearms and shoot Palestinians in case of conflict.
This Sunday and in an interview with reporters at the United Nations headquarter in New York, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, warned that Israel’s decision to expand the licensing of handguns for Israeli civilians will only lead to more violence in the already turbulent Palestine.
“Plans by the Government of Israel to expedite and expand the licensing of firearms, with the stated intention of adding thousands of [Israeli] civilians carrying firearms – coupled with hateful rhetoric – can only lead to further violence and bloodshed,” Turk said this Sunday.
Demanding the Israeli government to not put into practice the new gun law, the UN High Commissioner also asserted that “We know from experience the proliferation of firearms will lead to increased risks of killings and injuries of both Israelis and Palestinians. The Israeli authorities must work to reduce the availability of firearms in society,”
The warning came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a week ago that more Israelis will be allowed by the law to carry guns with themselves.
The promise itself was made after tensions in the Palestinian territories reached to alarming levels some weeks before. Following an Israeli military attack to the West Bank city of Jenin last month in January, 10 Palestinians died and dozens more were injured. In a tit-for-tat move by Palestinians, a young Arab gunman opened fire at Israelis in the occupied East Jerusalem, which resulted in 7 deaths and15 injuries.
A law to protect Israelis at the expense of even more bloodshed
To protect Israelis from any such harms again, the Israeli government is now planning to loosen gun laws and enable thousands of Israeli civilians to carry weapons, in addition to those who already do.
“The police cannot be everywhere,” said Itzik Chiprout, chairman of the Israeli Legal Weapon Association, adding also that “even a swift police reaction is sometimes not enough. Civilians that are armed save lives.”
Private gun ownership in Israel is allowed only under certain circumstances. That is, there is list of criteria that an Israeli civilian needs to meet in order to be allowed to own a gun. These include a medical approval of mental and physical health, a clean criminal record, and gun safety tests. Once a license is obtained, there is a continuous training requirement and there are stringent rules regarding weapons storage.
What the new Israeli government, which is known to be the most extremist in Israel’s history, is trying to do is to close eyes on all the above-mentioned criteria and the training requirement as well.
In his visit to the area where the shooting to Israelis happened, Israel’s new national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, pointed to this very reckless idea, saying that “”I want more weapons on the streets so that the citizens of Israel can defend themselves.”
Good to mention that as of now, there are more than 155,000 legal private firearms in Israel, with about 147,000 approved license holders. This means that approximately 1.6% of Israel’s population possesses a legal private lethal weapon.
Opposing Ben-Gvir’s idea, Rela Mazali, the co-founder and project coordinator of Gun Free Kitchen Tables, believes that any loosening of gun licensing for Israeli civilians would only create more violence.
“Arms proliferation only increases violence, we have seen this in recent years in Israel,” she said this Sunday speaking to The Media Line, further noting that “in this move, the state is also privatizing the maintenance of public safety, which is a dangerous business.”