Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced on Sunday the creation of a national guard, with the aim of “strengthening the personal security” of Israeli citizens.

“I have instructed the National Security Council, in coordination with the Public Security Ministry, to present the government with an orderly and budgeted plan to establish a civilian national guard by the end of the month,” Bennett said during his opening remarks at Sunday’s Cabinet meeting.

The unrest in mixed Arab-Jewish cities during “Operation Guardian of the Walls” last year had demonstrated the “urgent need” to strengthen citizens’ security, said Bennett. That need had only become more urgent in light of the current wave of terrorism, he added.

“Time and time again, we see the difference between incidents in which there was a responsible armed civilian in the area and those in which there was not. The need is great, especially in the ultra-Orthodox cities, in which fewer people carry weapons. We are taking action,” he said.

The new force will be composed of Border Police units together with mobilized, trained units of volunteers and reservists, who together will form a single national guard, said Bennett. The new forces will be activated as needed, “in emergencies and disturbances, and in routine times as well,” he added.

In addition, Bennett said that the Israel Police have launched an operation focusing on Palestinians who enter Israel illegally, something which he said has “become a national blight.”

“An entire industry has developed around the smuggling, transportation and employment of people present in Israel illegally, as we have seen, unfortunately, in the latest terrorist attack, in which the person who drove the terrorists [from the border into Israel] was brutally murdered,” he said.

Oren Ben Yiftah, 35, of Lod, was one of three Israelis killed on Thursday by Palestinian terrorists who had entered the country illegally. Yiftah, a taxi driver, unwittingly conveyed the terrorists to the scene of the attack.

The two suspected terrorists, As’ad Yousef As’ad al-Rifa’i, 19, and Subhi Emad Subhi Abu Shqeir, 20, from the Palestinian village of Rumana near Jenin, were captured on Sunday in a forest near Elad following a 60-hour manhunt, according to police.

“Over the weekend, I instructed that an effort be coordinated—operational, legal and regarding infrastructure—against those who transport, provide lodging for and employ people present in Israel illegally. We will use all of the tools at our disposal—including the seizure of vehicles, fines—whatever is needed. All government ministries, but especially the Public Security Ministry and the Justice Ministry, are already working on it,” said Bennett.

The prime minister also declared that there is “no political consideration regarding the war on terrorism nor will there be. And of course, all decisions regarding the Temple Mount in Jerusalem will be made by the Government of Israel, which is sovereign in the city, without any extraneous considerations whatsoever. We certainly reject any foreign involvement in the decisions of the Government of Israel.”

JNS

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