The office of Israel’s far-right Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, has announced that his ministry is set to receive an extra 1.8 billion shekels ($500 million) for equipment for the police, civilian response teams, the prison service and firefighters.
According to the Times of Israel, the cabinet approved this increase as a component of a 30 billion shekels ($8.1 billion) budget reallocation towards efforts related to the ongoing war on Gaza. However, the changes still require final approval from the Knesset.
The equipment will consist of a range of items, including firearms, bulletproof vests, helmets, armoured vehicles, security cameras and unspecified “technological systems” intended for use by the police.
“Israel Police, Fire and Rescue Services, and the Israel Prison Service are fighting valiantly, protecting us with their bodies, and risking their lives for the safety of Israel’s citizens,” said Ben-Gvir. “The addition to the budget is a basic and essential need for them and for the hundreds of emergency response teams who have joined the police during the war.”
This move comes after Ben-Gvir said earlier this month that tens of thousands of firearms permits have been granted to Israeli citizens. He claimed that this was done to protect Israelis from attacks.
The far-right extremist noted the opening of “hundreds” of new classes across the country to teach Israelis how to carry and use firearms. Moreover, the government has added “dozens” of staff to the Firearms Division.
Ben-Gvir has been posting images and videos in recent weeks of himself distributing weapons to Israelis in the north and south of the occupation state, as well as in the occupied West Bank. Palestinians fear that Israel’s policy of arming citizens may be a pretext for carrying out killings under the pretext of “preventing attacks”.
The Israeli army already storms villages and towns across the West Bank on a daily basis, accompanied by confrontations, arrests, shootings and use of tear gas against Palestinians, coinciding with the war on Gaza. These confrontations have escalated since the start of the devastating offensive launched by the Israeli army on the Gaza Strip on 7 October.