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New Profile is one of the partner organizations in the Gun Free Kitchen Tables Campaign. Gun Free Kitchen Tables is the only arms control project in Israel’s civil society.
(TEL AVIV) - The Hebrew version of this update, distributed first, shared GFKT’s excited news of a first rate investigative article on the small arms of private security firms in Israel. Then, before an English translation was done, the update turned into a grave report on yet more murders in the domestic sphere involving a security guard’s gun. This evening in Kiryat Motzkin, north of Haifa, following a chain of events that is still unclear, a woman and a man were found stabbed to death in the home of a security guard who later shot and killed another man and then committed suicide. (“Suspected in Haifa: Security Guard Killed Three and Committed Suicide,” Ahiya Raved, Ynet, March 4, 2013 [Hebrew].)
This is the outrageous, repetitive reality enabled by the failure—of government, police and private companies—to enforce Clause 10c of the Firearms Act that officially restricts security guards’ gun licenses to their places of work.
The exhaustive investigative write-up by Liat Schlesinger: “Investigation: Why Do Security Guards Leave Work with Their Guns?” was featured by “Weekend Maariv” on Friday, March 1st [Hebrew]. For those of you who communicate in Hebrew as well as English, this is a perfect opportunity to share and distribute the piece on email lists, Facebook, and person to person. For us, at GFKT, it’s yet another opportunity to appreciate the fantastic work of our media liaison, Yael Marom, whose patient, wise professionalism help access this additional, resounding venue.
Here are a few of the article’s highlights:
“’The state and the security firms shirk responsibility and prioritize economy over women’s security,’ says Atty. Smadar Ben Natan, co-founder of the Gun Free Kitchen Tables project which has worked in recent years to reduce the proliferation of small arms in the domestic sphere.”
The piece opens with the unprecedented civil suit of Alamnesh Zalaka, filed on her behalf, as we reported in past, by the attorneys of the GFKT Campaign. From the outset, it focuses on the responsibility of the state:
“A far-reaching failure: In breach of the law, tens of thousands of security guards take home guns after finishing their shifts … Most security firms take no measures to allow depositing guns at the work-site after duty, and the state fails to enforce its own directives.”
In a sensitive in-depth interview with Alamnesh Zalaka, Schlesinger sketches a detailed picture of the “gun play” that terrorized Alamnesh long before the attempted murder. Her description conveys the reality of a woman living under a daily death threat, in the form of a lethal, available firearm. As GFKT activists explain, this is the reality in many, many homes even when no murders or attempted murders take place. The destructive implications of firearms in the home—first and foremost for women—are far more extensive than reflected in the number of homicides they enable. But murders and attempted murders with security guards’ guns are particularly outrageous in Israel because they could be prevented through relatively simple means, actually enacted into law in 2008, yet those means remain unenforced to this day.
Schlesinger’s article seriously questions the automatic and prevalent claim that ubiquitous armed security guards are a necessity. A “senior private security source” admits openly that,
“There are too many superfluous guns in Israel. It’s claimed that guards need guns for their sense of security: that’s total nonsense … Most of the private security officers want to feel they’re holding power in their hands. You take a guy who was once in the Security Service (“Shabak”), and he says, My guards without guns? Where’s my dignity … The amount of arms is exaggerated … What’s needed is a small, high-quality structure, but that’s not the way things work … [and] guards aren’t the only ones with guns … police too … soldiers … the solution is reducing the quantity of arms.’”
This quote is just one aspect of an extended argument in which the article claims a distinct evasion of responsibility for armed companies, facilitated by a lack of transparency and data.
In answer to a direct question from Schlesinger: Who is responsible for enforcing the rules? Yaakov Amit, Head of the Firearms Branch in the Ministry of Public Security, says,
“’All of us. We as the regulator are responsible, the private company that accepts responsibility, the police, in general, everyone bears a responsibility. But we can’t intervene in every [government] tender. The government computers don’t communicate with one another.’”
And with regard to police, Schlesinger writes,
“Many countries record [gun] murders according to gender, site and [details of] the weapon. Surprisingly, Weekend’s investigation has found that the police [in Israel] doesn’t collect such data. It is apparently not high enough on the list of police priorities.”
These are just the priorities that Gun Free Kitchen Tables is working to overturn: The priorities that marginalize women’s and human security, promoting profits for private companies and government budget cuts at the expense of women’s lives and exploited workers. With sustained, sustaining support from each of you we hope to get there.
Thank you all, Smadar, Galit, Yael, Revital, Rela Gun Free Kitchen Tables
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