Amid fighting on Israel’s southern and northern borders, as well as ongoing attempts to open a front in Judea and Samaria, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir on Wednesday said his ministry was preparing for possible Arab riots in mixed Jewish-Arab cities.
During a visit to the western Negev city of Sderot, one of the communities attacked during Hamas’s Oct. 7 terrorist assault, Ben-Gvir announced he ordered Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai to make preparations for “a scenario of Guardian of the Walls II, which I think is looming.”
Ben-Gvir’s remarks referred to the widespread Arab rioting in Israeli cities with large numbers of Arab and Jewish residents that took place during the IDF’s May 2021 aerial operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
During the fighting in Gaza, a Jewish resident of Lod died after Arab rioters pelted his car with rocks.
Over the course of five days, Arabs set fire to 10 synagogues, 112 Jewish houses and 849 Jewish-owned cars. Moreover, 673 Jewish homes were damaged and the apartments of 386 Jewish families were looted. Authorities recorded 5,018 instances of stone-throwing at Jews.
On Saturday morning, Hamas terrorists infiltrated several Israeli communities, killing at least 1,200 people and taking at least 100 hostages back to Gaza. At least 3,000 people were wounded in shootouts and rocket attacks over the weekend, and the toll continues to climb.
The terrorist group is attempting to incite Arab Israelis to join its war against the Jewish state, Israel Hayom cited an anonymous police official as saying on Wednesday.
“The police are preparing and are prepared, and the proof for this is that no irregular incidents have happened so far. Naturally, such a scenario is being taken into account and we will respond forcefully to any case of violence, if one occurs,” the source told the newspaper.
Earlier this week, Ben-Gvir announced his ministry would immediately start distributing weapons, helmets and bulletproof vests to thousands of security volunteers in mixed cities, border communities and towns in Judea and Samaria.
Civilian security teams will be established in localities that lack them, the National Security Ministry said.
In addition, Ben-Gvir relaxed the restrictions on firearm permits for Israeli civilians. After a telephone interview with the ministry’s Firearm Licensing Department, eligible citizens without a criminal record or health issues can now be issued a gun license within a week.
And starting this week, gun owners will be able to own 100 bullets, up from 50.
The National Security Ministry received more than 7,946 requests to carry arms since Saturday’s shock attack, it said on Wednesday. Over 545 permits for personal handguns have been processed so far.
The ministry said it was hiring 60 additional staff members to address the high demand. In total, some 27,000 permits have been issued since the start of the year.