Israel is making it easier to Own Guns and sends more Troops to the West Bank
Israel's security cabinet has approved measures that will make it easier for Israelis to obtain permits to own weapons so "thousands more civilians" can acquire them, and will "strengthen" Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.
A day before the measure was announced, Israel also announced over the weekend that it was increasing its military presence in the West Bank.
The decisions are a response to the attack on an East Jerusalem synagogue that killed seven on Friday (the deadliest for Jews in Jerusalem since 2008) and escalating tensions after months of clashes in the West Bank, culminating in the army's operation in Jenin with the most -at least 9 Palestinians killed. Another attack was reported on Saturday in which there were no casualties, but a 13-year-old Palestinian boy was named as the perpetrator. Dozens have been detained since the two attacks.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to discuss the issue during his Middle East tour, in which after Egypt (where he has already arrived) the stop will be Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian National Authority, whose leaders met in Ramallah on Sunday to discuss the situation, called the new measures "collective punishment" and warned they would only increase tensions. Hamas-linked analyst Mustafa al-Sawaf described Israel's decisions as a step towards a new "intifada" (uprising).
"Civilians can defend themselves"
The weapons proposal has been around for years, but was revived by far-right Internal Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, whose presence in Benjamin Netanyahu's government, which took power this year, is causing tension among Palestinians. "When civilians have weapons, they can defend themselves," he said after visiting a hospital where those injured in the first attack were treated.
Netanyahu later confirmed the plans for the weapons, arguing that it would actually reduce violence. "Time and time again we have seen ... that heroic, armed and trained civilians can save lives," he said, referring to the Israeli response to the second attack. Then the 13-year-old boy was injured after he shot at a group of Israelis and wounded two, but one of them also shot at him.
The tension doesn't stop. Israeli police cordoned off and sealed the doors and windows of the attacker's home in front of the synagogue. Residents of a Palestinian village near Ramallah in the West Bank said a house had been burned by a group of Jewish settlers living in the area. Netanyahu's cabinet announced upon taking office a month ago that the construction of more Jewish settlements in the West Bank would be a priority, but concrete measures have not yet been announced.
Among the measures adopted last night is the possibility of withdrawing the rights of insurance and others of relatives of Palestinians who carry out such attacks.
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