Friday, April 12, 2024

Netanyahu announces plans to arm Israelis

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced plans to make it easier for Israelis to get firearms amid escalating violence in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Netanyahu announced the measure late on Saturday after convening a meeting of his security cabinet — filled with hardline politicians — over a pair of shootings that included an attack in occupied East Jerusalem.

Eight people were killed in the shooting outside the East Jerusalem synagogue on Friday.

The weekend shootings took place towards the end of a month of growing confrontation and follow an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin that killed ten Palestinians and exchanges of fire between Israel and Gaza.

In all, Israeli forces have killed 32 Palestinians this month.

Israel had not carried out a raid on the scale of its operation in Jenin in years, but it is part of intensified military incursions by the Israeli army into the occupied West Bank, which killed at least 200 Palestinians in the past year.

On Saturday, Netanyahu promised to expedite gun permits for Israeli citizens and to step up efforts to collect “illegal weapons”. He added that the homes of the suspected assailants would also be sealed immediately ahead of demolition “in order to exact an additional price from those who support terrorism”.

His office later announced social security benefits for the families of attackers will also be cancelled.

In addition, it promised new steps to “strengthen” illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank but gave no details.

A spokesperson for the Israeli military said an additional battalion had been sent to the occupied West Bank for reinforcement.

Analysts in Israel say Netanyahu was under pressure from hardliners in his cabinet, including National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.

The government in Israel is the most right-wing in Israeli history.

Ben-Gvir, who had pushed for more gun permits, said on Saturday that he would also push for the death penalty against “terrorists”.

The Palestinian leadership in the occupied West Bank also upheld its decision to halt security coordination with Israel to protest the deadly raid in Jenin.

After a meeting headed by President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority called on the international community and the United States to force Israel to halt its raids in the West Bank.

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