The first phase of distributing weapons to volunteer civilian defense teams in about 70 Israeli communities near the Gaza border has been completed, the Defense Ministry said on Sunday.
Standby units received, weapons, ceramic vests, uniforms, helmets and shoes. In the coming weeks, additional items such as medical equipment and logistical gear will also be provided.
The ministry added that this coincides with the completion of similar equipment distribution in northern Israel.
The Israeli government has established more than 700 civilian security teams since Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre.
“Since the outbreak of hostilities, new standby squads have been established in 40 regional councils that include 1,000 kibbutzim, moshavim and communities that never had standby units,” the ministry said in November.
Standby squads are made up of local residents, usually former military, who train together and are qualified to use automatic rifles. They serve as first-response defense teams, holding down the fort until regular troops arrive.
At least two kibbutzim in the western Negev were saved during the Oct. 7 invasion because of such squads.