Israel’s Gun Control Is a Disaster. Here’s Why

In a New York Post article, SUNY epidemiology professor Janet Rosenbaum lauds Israel’s gun control laws noting that The US should follow Israel’s lead. But should it? That’s precisely what I plan on tackling in the following blog.

The law

Before we get into it, we need to first consider the purpose of gun control in general. The objective of a society’s gun laws is to make its citizens safer, especially its law abiding citizens.

Israel’s gun laws are far more stringent than those in many states in the US. For example, the only way for an Israeli citizen to obtain a firearm is if they comply with the following criteria:

  • Work in security or law enforcement
  • Live or work in Judea or Samaria
  • Former officers in the IDF above a certain rank
  • For hunting
  • Are a jeweler

Additionally, about 40% of Israeli gun applicants are rejected, more than any other country in the west!

Yakov Amit, head of the firearms licensing department at the Ministry of Public Security said that the aim of Israeli gun control is “to strike a balance between needs and risks,”. But is this accomplished under Israel’s current gun laws? Let’s examine that for a minute.

A few case studies

Tel Aviv has a population of about 429,000. Despite the densely populated hub, it has among the lowest gun ownership per capita in Israel. That could be why in January of 2016, 29-year-old Nashat Milhem of the northern Israeli Arab town of Arara had no problem opening fire outside of a bar on Dizengoff street killing two Israelis and a Bedouin taxi driver. He was at large for over a week until security forces finally tracked him down in his hometown-where a massive shootout with security forces took place.

Later in June of that same year, two terrorists managed to shoot up the Max Brenner cafe, also in Tel Aviv, spraying bullets into the crowd uncontested for over a minute killing three and seriously injuring four. Both managed to leave the scene unscathed.

Another place in Israel with virtually non-existent gun ownership is the ultra-orthodox Har Nof neighborhood in western Jerusalem. That could be why cousins Uday Abu Jamal and Ghassan Muhammad Abu Jamal eased into a synagogue in 2014 killing four worshippers and shooting to death the police officer who responded.

And yes, armed guards at the entrance of schools prevent shootings. But once that guard goes home for the day, so does the student’s protection. That’s how in March of 2008, Jerusalem resident Alaa Abu Dhein goose-stepped into the Mercaz Harav yeshiva high school with an AK-47 spraying 600 rounds for fifteen uncontested minutes. The result-eight students killed and scores wounded. And although the Israeli government and gun control enthusiasts believe we should surrender our weapons to security forces, it should be noted that the police who arrived on the scene, were afraid to enter the complex and engage the terrorist. Instead, they chose to halt oncoming street traffic while Dhein was still mowing down his victims without distraction. Needless to say, it was one of the few lawful gun owners in Jerusalem who was miraculously in the right place at the right time to finally kill the perpetrator.

But aside from the incompetence of the Israeli police-the more pressing question is: If Israel’s gun control is so strict, how did all these terrorists in Israel get their guns in the first place?

Israel’s worst kept secret 

Professor Rosenbaum may not be aware of the fact that Arab villages throughout Israel, who are hostile to the Jewish state are stockpiled with illegal weapons. The problem is so bad that even Arab MK Ahmad Tibi, a fierce opponent of Israel as a Jewish state, begged the Zionist government to crack down on illegal weapons in his own Arab villages. The fact that there hasn’t been more terrorist shootings against Jewish Israelis is nothing short of a miracle from God.

This could be why almost 300,000 Israelis felt compelled to take up arms. However, just 40% of Israel’s 283,000 gun license applicants are rejected on a regular basis with no appeals process in place. This means that 113,333 Israelis who felt unsafe to the point of seeking armed protection, were denied the right to bear arms. This does not include the estimated millions of law abiding citizens who would like to own a gun but won’t bother going through the rigorous application process. That’s because they know that the government will never grant them that right according to the current criteria and applying would be a waste of time. (I personally know tens of people who fall into this category.

Judea Samaria

Now compare pre-1967 Israel with Judea and Samaria, where Israeli gun ownership is extremely high while gun violence among Jewish Israelis is non-existent.

And although this region suffers the brunt of Arab terrorism, their high rate of gun ownership makes them far better prepared for terrorist attacks than their counterparts in pre-1967 Israel.

One incident highlighting this theory happened on February 2, 2002, when an armed suicide bomber entered a supermarket in the Judean town of Efrat. Before the terrorist could begin mowing down Israelis with his gun, an alert armed civilian put a bullet to his head ending what could have easily been an utter catastrophe. It was later learned that the deceased terrorist was also wearing a suicide vest.

And although plenty of residents of Judea and Samaria have suffered their fair share of knife attacks, the terrorist’s knife-rampage success rate in pre-1967 Israel is far greater and last for longer periods of time than those in Judea and Samaria. For example, during the knife intifada, Arabs went around stabbing Jews in broad daylight in places like Raanana and Rishon Litzion. In some cases, they continued their murderous spree for over ten minutes at a time.  Meanwhile, most knife attacks in Judea and Samaria happened in the private homes of the victims, often times at night when they are sleeping. This was the case with the Fogel family in itamar, Hallel Ariel in Kiryat Arba and the Salomon family in Halamish. It would be incredibly difficult for a terrorist to open fire in say-the mall in Maale Adumim or to go on a knife rampage in the commercial center of Tekoa without getting gunned down almost immediately.

The bottom line

The gun problem in Arab villages in Israel is a ticking time bomb. Israel’s restrictive gun laws ensure that one segment of the population is exposed and vulnerable to this disturbing phenomenon. That’s because the hostile Arab elements inside Israel use the lack of Israeli gun ownership to their advantage capitalizing on defenseless citizens. If they want to maximize casualties, they know they’ll have better success in Tel Aviv than in Ariel. every Jew in Israel without a gun is an even greater sitting duck for the next terrorist attack. It’s time to loosen Israel’s gun laws and stop pretending like our system works.

So the next time Prime minister Netanyahu says that “Israel has the right to defend itself,” let’s hope Israel’s law abiding citizens are also taken into consideration.


About the Author
David Sidman is a candidate in the Zehut political party, Israel activist and contributor to He is also a professional dog trainer. You can follow him at @theIsraeliShow
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