Interior Minister Eli Yishai..
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Interior Minister Eli Yishai moved Wednesday to relax gun controls for West Bank residents after it emerged that Yitzhak Ames, one of four people killed in Tuesday night’s terrorist attack near Hebron, had his weapons permit revoked a few months prior to being murdered.
Yishai requested that Populations Registry head Amnon Ben-Ami act to relax conditions, including allowing settlers to acquire weapons without police approval, relying instead on professional opinions from the Interior Ministry, the Population Registry and the Immigration Authority.
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Ames had been licensed to carry a weapon through his employment as a security guard. Approximately six months ago, Ames’s weapon permit was suspended, allegedly due to his involvement in public disturbances.
“I instructed to immediately relax the registration of weapons to residents of Judea and Samaria,” Yishai explained Wednesday.
Within a few hours of Tuesday night’s terror attack, in which Ames and his wife as well as two other residents of Beit Hagai were gunned down near Kiryat Arba by Palestinian terrorists, settlers’ advocates railed against the fact that Ames’s personal weapon had been seized in late 2009.
Had Ames been armed at the time of the attack, they said, he could have defended himself and the other three people who sat with him in his vehicle.
Coalition chairman MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), who had known Ames since the two were students in the former Soviet Union, said that “it is absurd that Ames’s weapon was taken from him. He was a man who never raised his voice, who would never have hurt anybody.”
In an interview with Army Radio, Elkin said that Ames was very active in the movement to protect the Jewish heritage of the Temple Mount and to prepare for the establishment of the Third Temple, but emphasized that right-wing activism alone must not constitute grounds to seize weapons from West Bank residents.
Ames’s attorney, Yitzhak Bam, said that in April, his client had
appealed the decision to seize his weapon. Only last week, Bam sent an
additional letter to the Interior Ministry demanding a response to
“The fact that Ames’s right to carry a weapon was denied him as part of
the activities of the Justice Ministry’s Special Team for Law
Enforcement in Judea and Samaria, lead by Shai Nitzan, proves that the
team does not engage in equal enforcement but in discrimination and
ideological retribution,” complained Elkin.
“This team acts without any real authority and against government decisions,” he continued.
“I will once again request that Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein order
the immediate cessation of the team’s activities, and that he reconsider
all of its previous decisions.”