HAIFA, Tuesday, April 4, 2023 (WAFA) - The Israeli government's decision to establish the so-called National Guard under the leadership of racist National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir further entrenches Israel's practice of maintaining two separate law enforcement systems based on national affiliation, according to the Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.
“One system is administered by the police and is responsible for enforcing the law for the general populace in accordance with general law enforcement regulations. The other system is designated exclusively for Palestinian citizens of Israel and comprises armed civilian militias with law enforcement authority that operates under the Minister of National Security's direction. Creating these two separate tracks based on race, particularly with respect to law enforcement powers, is absolutely prohibited and violates the principle of equality before the law,” said Adalah in a statement.
It should be mentioned that on 3 April, the Minister of Heritage, Amichai Eliyahu, from the Jewish Power party, explicitly stated that the "National Guard" is intended exclusively for Palestinians. He noted that the “National Guard” is meant for “citizens of the country who identify with the enemy, such as Operation Guardian of the Walls, nationalistic protectionism, nationalist agricultural crime, theft of weapons and combat equipment, sexual harassment and rape of a nationalist [motive].”
This statement perpetuates the perception of Palestinian citizens as the "enemy" of Israel's law enforcement authorities, said Adalah.
Furthermore, Adalah said that the establishment of the National Guard aims to institutionalize the cooperation between armed Jewish-Israeli civilians and the police following the May 2021 Uprising. During May 2021, organized groups of Jewish-Israeli armed civilians, which then-Public Security Minister Ohana called a “force multiplier for the authorities”, attacked Palestinian citizens of Israel and their property in “mixed cities”, ostensibly with police collusion and protection. Israeli authorities afforded sweeping immunity to Jewish-Israeli civilians for these attacks, including and most egregiously in the case of the murder of Mussa Hassouna in Lydda.
On 2 April 2023, the Israeli government advanced a decision to further the establishment of the "National Guard of Israel" under the responsibility of the Ministry of National Security, headed by the minister, and leader of the ‘Jewish Power’ party (‘Otzma Yehudit’), Itamar Ben-Gvir. According to a previous decision and the proposed decision submitted by Ben Gvir on 29 March 2023, the National Guard will be composed of Israel’s Border Police, army reservists, and civilian volunteers who will be subordinate to the Ministry of National Security.
The decision mandates that the Minister of National Security establish a committee, headed by the Director-General of the Ministry, to deliberate on matters including the guard's subordination, responsibilities, relations with the Israeli army, and other relevant issues.
According to the decision, the National Guard will be under the full responsibility of the Ministry of National Security and will serve "as a skilled and trained force to deal, among other things, with various emergency scenarios, national crime, and the fight against terror, as well as to strengthen sovereignty in areas where required, within the framework of the tasks currently held by the Israeli police in these areas."
Before the decision was approved, Adalah sent a letter to the Government's Legal Advisor, the Prime Minister, and the Minister of National Security, requesting that they not approve the decision and refrain from establishing this "National Guard”.
The decision was made in accordance with the coalition agreements between the Jewish Power Party and the Likud Party, published in December 2022. Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett previously announced the Guard’s establishment in May 2022.