Israeli anti-violence associations have raised the alarm on the consequences of government plans for easing restrictions on settlers’ gun ownership and said that such a move will lead to more grief and hostility for generations to come.
“A previous government led by Benjamin Netanyahu took decisions to facilitate granting arms licenses in 2018, and the result was an increase in violence and murder, especially within families and against women,” said Rela Mazali, the co-founder and project coordinator of Gun Free Kitchen Tables (GFKT).
GFKT is an NGO that operates for stricter gun control and small arms disarmament.
“Data from homeland security for the year 2021 indicates that 12 people committed suicide with a licensed weapon,” said Mazali, adding that in the same year, 14 women were shot dead, including three Jewish women.
According to a recent report published by Haaretz, 86 of the 100 towns in which the percentage of those already licensed is high are settlements in the West Bank.
In settlements like Adora, Kiryat Netafim and Neghot, a third of the residents carry weapons.
Data collected by the National Security Ministry, headed by Itamar Ben-Gvir, showed that the percentage of licensed weapon holders is meager in Arab towns, where unlicensed weapons are rife and sold on the black market at exorbitant prices.
Moreover, it turns out that settlements established by the Israeli government in the West Bank are also characterized by a high rate of gun owners.
In Ariel, a settlement established in Nablus, the percentage of licensed weapon holders reached 9.2%.
In Maale Adumim, a settlement established in southern Jerusalem, 6% of residents are licensed weapon holders.
Meanwhile, in bigger cities, like Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa, the rates are much lower standing at 1.8% at most.
About 148,000 Israeli settlers and citizens currently hold a weapon license. This number does not include security personnel, soldiers, police and guards.