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  • ACRI

Israel is Arming Itself: to Define the Role and Powers of the Municipal Emergency Units

Since the outbreak of the war, the police have rapidly established more than 100 urban preparedness units, each receiving M16 rifles after an accelerated training process of 7 hours, lacking proper oversight. Testimonies have emerged that members of these units conduct armed patrols throughout the cities and detain Arab citizens for identity checks.


On November 12, 2023, we sent legal correspondence (Hebrew) the Commissioner of Police and the Attorney General. In the correspondence, Attorney Anne Suciu of ACRI, explained that despite being a new type of armed civilian force (in contrast to settlement preparedness units that existed before the war), many questions remained unanswered without clear regulation: What are the criteria for establishing urban preparedness units? What is the training process for these units? What are their roles? What are the authorities of unit members? How is the provided weaponry stored?


The correspondence stated that the establishment of so many preparedness units reflects a blatant privatization of a distinct governmental role to civilian entities, with an unclear and unsatisfactory approval and training process. There is a significant concern about potential misuse of authority by unit members, particularly towards the Arab population in Israel. It was argued that urban preparedness units lack the authority to detain individuals, and any act of enforcement, such as questioning or search, significantly infringes on an individual's rights to freedom of movement, privacy, and dignity. Therefore, explicit legal authorization, which is currently lacking, is demanded. We called for halting the spread of civilian armament in an expedited process and clarifying the roles and authorities of the preparedness units

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