October 29, 2023
We recently informed Firearms News readers about how the widely told story of Israel arming civilians after the Oct. 7 terror attack is greatly exaggerated, with reforms affecting only a tiny portion of the population. Now, reports out of Israel show that the Shin Bet, Israel’s security service comparable to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), is actually disarming some Israelis in the West Bank, leaving whole communities unprotected. Yonatan Stern, director of Pennsylvania-based Cherev Gidon Israeli Tactical Training (CherevGidon.com) grew up in Israel and is a former member of both Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Israeli Police. Concerned for his countrymen, Stern is keeping close track of the situation in Israel.
“I speak Hebrew fluently and I read the Hebrew media,” Stern said. “But more importantly, I'm connected on social media with individuals whose stories may not be heard by the media, and even people that I don't necessarily know through my connections on different social media networks. And I discovered a really shocking story.”
What Stern found was that the Shin Bet had visited a man named Amishov Melet in Geulat Zion, a small community on the West Bank, and had confiscated his rifle—the only firearm in the small community, which is now left completely unprotected from further terror attacks. Melet had been permitted to have the gun because he is the IDF security coordinator for the village.
“They had been disarming people for a long time,” Stern said. “I was a member of the IDF and they wouldn’t give me a pistol permit. However, what is new is that your dealing with a war situation. These people are just basically left totally defenseless. They’re saying we don’t trust these people with guns.
“Do you think the other side doesn’t know that? They know that the army is disarming these people, and that basically there is no security whatsoever in these frontline settlements.”
Since learning of the situation with Melet, Stern has been informed of at least two other similar situations where rifles were confiscated from individuals formerly permitted to possess them, leaving other small communities in the same quandary. To understand why, a little background is in order.
As Stern explains it, while the Israeli government has become much more conservative over the past several years, since the founding of the state the security establishment has been dominated by leftwing socialist elites. Over time, as the population has become more conservative, control over the security establishment has remained the same.
Stern says that’s why Melet and others have been targeted and disarmed.
“They're specifically targeting rightwing, conservative, religious people for disarmament based on their political views,” he said.
The result of these politically motivated gun confiscations, Stern said, is leaving innocent Israeli citizens at the mercy of their Palestinian attackers.
“We're talking about isolated settlements surrounded by Palestinian cities that are facing brutal Hamas terror attacks all the time,” Stern said. “And they're saying, ‘No, we don't trust these people with guns, these are rightwing fanatics,’ or whatever they would.
“You know how gun-free zones always attract mass shootings in America? It’s the same thing out there. They (Hamas) know that the army is disarming these people and it's going to be their number one attack point because it's the easiest they have. They know there’s not going to be any resistance.”
Stern says the government putting citizens in this deadly position, through both its restrictive gun laws and now disarming some citizens, is sick and evil.
“Of course, they don't control the weapons that the enemy has,” Stern said. “They have unlimited access to any type of weaponry they want and they have open access to Israeli civilians. But those Israeli civilians do fall under the complete domination of these leftwing socialist elites who control the Shin Bet.
According to Stern, one of the things exacerbating the situation is the fact that American media continue to put out stories making it look like Israeli politicians are actively trying to arm the public, when in actuality the reforms change very little. Since the image of the Israeli government has been horribly stained by the shock invasion, Stern believes the government is happy to push this image of arming citizens out to the public. At the same time, many here in the United States point toward the reports as proof that a country under attack has learned the important lesson that the right of citizens to keep and bear arms truly works, and armed citizens can protect themselves and their country.
“I think the truth comes before everything else,” Stern said. “The truth is these changes that they have made have not benefited very many people and are just basically window dressing. They're very minor changes and they haven't given people gun rights, as a lot of Americans are being led to believe.”
In fact, according to Stern, the concept of a right to keep and bear arms is not common in Israeli society.
“You have to understand, that is something that doesn't exist there,” he said. “The mentality is, and has always been, that arms are something that are reserved for the military, for the security and for whatever individuals that are security guards or do some kind of security work.
“’We have a strong army, we have police, you don't need a weapon, the government will protect you.’ That's always been the mentality over there. Just like the government protected all those 1,400 people along the border of Gaza? The government sure protected them, didn't it?”
Since the brutal Oct. 7 attack, however, that attitude has been changing for many. Yet the Israeli government still won’t let the vast majority of citizens bear arms for self-defense, and those who are allowed to do so are only allowed a pistol and 100 rounds of ammunition. So, how can change be effected—true change that would give citizens in dire straits the ability to own firearms, especially rifles, which are needed to defend against a very well-armed terrorist organization? According to Stern, it starts with getting the word out about Israel’s restrictive gun control laws and the recent disarmament of those who are in harm’s way.
“As long as the government still has that attitude that every individual doesn't deserve a firearm for personal protection—that it's only those who they see fit—they’re going to continue enabling these terrorist attacks. What that means is the Israeli government is criminal. They are basically an accessory to murder for what they did for years by confiscating guns and limiting access to firearms and enabling this terror attack to happen.
“This is what's going on and this needs to be an outrage. And people who love Israel especially need to be speaking out the most because nothing's going to change otherwise. Nothing changed for this many years because nobody was saying anything and because there was apathy and complacency. We can't be complacent here. This needs to be a major issue. People need to put this on the forefront and put maximum pressure on the Israeli government to reverse this travesty.”
Bringing attention to the confiscation of the only rifles in some Jewish settlements has spurred some Israeli lawmakers to action. Reports indicate that Ministers Amichai Chikli (Likud) and Yitzhak Wasserlauf (Otzma Yehudit), along with 11 MKs, signed a letter calling on the head of the Shin Bet to return rifles confiscated from the residents of Judea and Samaria. The letter, initiated by MK Limor Son Har-Melech (Otzma Yehudit), states: “We are in a time of war, an existential war of living or dying. Do not leave the difficult arena in Judea and Samaria defenseless. The residents are forced to defend themselves, and this is the state’s duty to them. We ask for the weapons to be returned immediately, the writing is on the wall, and we don’t have to wait for a disaster [to strike first].” Firearms News is following this story very closely and will be publishing updates.
About the Author
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for nearly 25 years.
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