Far-right Ben-Gvir calls for establishment of Israel National Guard to prepare for 'new Hamas war'

Far-right Ben-Gvir calls for establishment of Israel National Guard to prepare for 'new Hamas war'
Itamar Ben-Gvir has called for the establishment of a new force to prepare for war with Hamas.
2 min read
26 January, 2023
Ben-Gvir said war with Hamas was imminent [Getty]

Israel's National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has called for the establishment of a National Guard - similar to the one in the United States - to prepare for a new war with Hamas in Gaza.

The extreme-right politician claimed war between Israel and Hamas is "imminent".

This came as Israeli forces committed a massacre in the West Bank, killing at least nine Palestinians in a raid on Jenin refugee camp.

Ben-Gvir demanded strengthening the Israeli police force, and handing out 40 percent pay rises for officers, in preparation for violence in Israel if war with Hamas breaks out.

He called for doubling the strength of the Israeli border police, the creation of a "national task force" and "volunteer military branch", and signing up 10,000 new troops.

"In such a scenario there is only one solution: strengthening the police and establishing a national guard," he proclaimed.

The US National Guard is part of the military's reserve force, which sometimes responds to domestic emergencies. It was infamous for its role in the Kent State Massacre in 1970 when guards fired at anti-war protesters at the Ohio university, killing four people.

Ben-Gvir, of the Religious Zionist bloc, is one of the most extreme and controversial politicians in Israel. He has previously called for Palestinians to be expelled from the occupied territories.

On 3 January, he forced his way into the Al-Aqsa compound in occupied East Jerusalem, drawing condemnation from Arab countries, even those which had recently normalised ties with Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met King Abdullah in Amman this week to reassure Jordan, which is the custodian of the Jerusalem holy sites, that the status quo will continue despite the extremist minister's provocation.

Ben-Gvir however said that despite Netanyahu's reassurances, he would not heed Jordan's concerns about the holy site.

"I am here to answer all those who think that being a Jew is a provocation and walking here or there is a provocation — what we need is a very strong police that will forcefully retaliate against anyone who harms Jews for being Jews," he said.

His threats of war with Hamas coincide with a sharp rise in the killing of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank since the start of the year, shortly after the new Israeli government took office.

At least 29 Palestinians have been killed in the first 26 days of 2023, with far-right figures such as Ben-Gvir taking up key security positions in the Israeli government.

Israel has carried out numberous assaults on Gaza since a Hamas takeover in 2007, with the last bombing campaign leaving 49 civilians killed including 17 children.