There has been a sharp rise in requests by Israelis for permits to carry a weapon in the wake of the Arab riots that engulfed the country last month, according to Israel’s Public Security Ministry.
During normal times, 270 applications for gun permits are submitted but during Operation Guardian of the Walls, 1,926 applications were submitted – all from Jews.
Border Police Commissioner Maj. Gen. Amir Cohen said that the riots were worse than most believed, with the city streets almost reaching a state of total anarchy. In Lod, there were a number of families that were actually evacuated from their homes for a few days while the city was placed on emergency lockdown – a fact that was hidden from the press.
Cohen said that the riots were “the stuff of nightmares” – the worst in decades. He added that although police forces should have been bolstered in the problem areas earlier than they were, even if they had been, it wouldn’t have been enough.
“The police are not to blame for the riots nor for the vandalism, or brutality,” he said. “But I agree that in the first hours the results were not good.”
“That day, tens of thousands of rioters flooded the streets of Lod, Akko, Jerusalem, Haifa, Jaffa, Bat Yam and Umm el-Fahm, and even if the police had had hundreds of additional officers, unfortunately, we still would not have been able to be everywhere.”
In a quite frightening admission, Cohen said that even the combined forces of the Israel Police and Border Police wouldn’t have been able to quell the riots. “It was impossible given the existing manpower.”
“I won’t go into who is to blame and what preceded these events, but it is a state-level event. It wasn’t a police-level event that we could have solved by force even if we had deployed 5,000 policemen,” he said. Twenty companies of Border Police reservists were called up during the riots, a first in Israeli history.
In addition to the level of violence and destruction, Cohen said he was taken aback by the hatred and violence directed at the police.
“I’m concerned by the physical violence that was directed at us. The pursuit of friction with us—it was never this intense before. Things need to be put on the table: there’s a nationalist element here that is very troubling.”
“We’re not the Israel Defense Forces, which faces a known, familiar enemy—we’re police officers facing our fellow Israelis. I never expected an Israeli citizen, even an Israeli Arab, to point a gun at law enforcement.”
“I saw mobs storming innocent bystanders. I’m concerned that the residents of these [mixed] cities will take the law into their own hands.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)