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Women's Day in the Shadow of Firearms

In recent years, but even more so since October 7, the government and especially National Security Minister Ben-Gvir have been working to expand the proliferation of weapons in Israel in a broad and radical manner. Within a few months, we went from a proliferation and weapons licensing policy that allows private firearms to be carried only by those who have a real individual need to do so, and only to those who are skilled in the use of weapons and are essential for helping to maintain public safety, to a wild policy of arming hundreds of thousands of civilians, many of whom lack sufficient competence and skill.

 

This new reality has wide-ranging and long-term implications for Israeli society as a whole, but specifically for women, who are the first to be harmed in times of economic and social instability, and especially in times of war, violence and crime. A series of social constructions – including social and economic roles of women, dependence on others, and the need to protect their children – turn women into a disadvantaged population, especially during such times.

The widespread armament of civil society has put women in an extraordinarily vulnerable place. The mere presence of a weapon in the home or in the hands of a spouse or family member is threatening, a constant deterrent and paralyzing threat to women and their children. But the threat to women goes beyond the family unit. Guns in the public sphere also allow others to threaten women, including coercion of sex or other crime, and increases their risk of becoming victims of the general violence that is rising in Israeli society, which will now be reinforced by firearms.

 

The reality of armaments in Israel poses an even higher threat to Arab women. The extreme tension between Jewish and Arab society in Israel, perpetuated by Ben-Gvir, leads to a very easy target posed on Arabs in the event of any suspicion, baseless or not. The widespread proliferation of weapons increases crime in Arab society, which endangers women and their children and causes Arab women to shut themselves off and avoid environments of violence and harm – having severe consequences for women in all areas of life.

 

On Women's Day 2024, we remember that when the Minister of National Security distributes weapons with complete lawlessness, he is in fact also harming women and their right to life, and retracting years of progess from the struggle for equality. The way to increase security of citizens, and of women in particular, is not a mass distribution of weapons without restraint and supervision, but rather the strengthening of security forces that are trained to deal with the threats we face.

Attorney Debbie Gild-Hayo

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