October 22, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel Maintains Internal Quiet Amid War With Hamas

October 22, 2023 | Flash Brief

Israel Maintains Internal Quiet Amid War With Hamas

Latest Developments

Knock-on violence by Israeli Arabs has not occurred following the October 7 cross-border attack by Hamas and subsequent Israeli air attacks on Gaza, the country’s chief of police said on October 22. Given Arab rioting in Israel that accompanied Operation Guardian of the Walls in 2021, authorities in the Jewish state have been on guard over the last two weeks. Regulations for the issue of private gun licenses have been eased and hundreds of volunteer security squads have been set up as first-responders in Israeli communities. 

The chief of police, Inspector-General Kobi Shabtai, said the conduct of Israeli Arabs has been “exemplary.” Briefing a Knesset review panel, Shabtai credited police outreach to Arab community leaders, as well as preemptive arrests of Arab citizens who incite violence against Israel online. Israeli authorities claim that much of the unrest in 2021 was mobilized through social media.

Israel has set up 527 new volunteer security squads since October 7, Shabtai said. The National Security Ministry, which oversees police, said that 20,000 firearms would be issued to the squads, and that another order of 20,000 firearms intended for the volunteers was due to arrive this week from abroad. Squad members will also be issued flak-jackets and helmets, the ministry said.

While promoting the squads as necessary for internal security, Shabtai stressed that they will be subordinate to police.

Expert Analysis

“Israel has a Muslim minority larger than in any other Western democracy, yet it manages, against the odds, to maintain both security and civil liberties. Those who would criticize its current police crackdowns should recall that Israel is a country in the grip of an existential war. No country would suffer expressions of support by its citizens, in wartime, for an implacable enemy like Hamas. And as Israel’s chief of police Kobi Shabtai has revealed, such measures are sparing Israel much worse — a potential civil war.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“While Israel has maintained quiet on the internal front, it doesn’t mean Hamas and other terrorist organizations have not attempted to stoke unrest in the Arab population by promoting violent rhetoric. A repeat of the unrest witnessed in 2021 serves Hamas, Hezbollah and their allies as another front Israel must engage in this emerging multi-conflict arena.” — Joe Truzman, Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

Internal Violence Has Become a Nightmare for Israeli Arabs,” by David May and Haisam Hassanein

Israel must reclaim its Arab citizens,” by Mark Dubowitz and Jonathan Schanzer


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