The "Israeli Guard" was launched by Border Police on Tuesday, providing a new framework for recruiting both police officers and civilian volunteers to improve the emergency response of security forces.
The guard was launched by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev, Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai and Border Police commander Amir Cohen.
The decision to launch the Israeli Guard was made in light of the widespread riots and violence within Israel during Operation Guardian of the Walls, in order to increase the security of the State of Israel and the personal security of Israeli citizens.
The Israeli Guard will be part of Border Police, with the combined forces being split in to three different types of forces:
- Border Police officers
- Border Police reserves to which about 26 companies will be added in the coming years
- Volunteer forces
The volunteer forces will include the "Matmid" force, which already has about 8,000 volunteers in the periphery and will grow to have an additional 1,500 volunteers by the end of 2023. It will also include new companies called the "Forward Companies" consisting of 1,000 reserve fighters until the end of the year and will increase to 2,000 fighters during 2023.
The Forward Companies will be trained to handle riots during emergency situations and will keep weapons and equipment in their homes in order to be ready to deploy at a moment's notice.
The civilian guard of Israel Police will also be reinforced with another 3,500 volunteers or so with the goal of increasing their presence in the streets and the feeling of everyday security in the country.
'We have a national security threat from within'
"The 'Guardian of the Walls' riots taught us that we have a national security threat from within," said Bennett. "First and foremost we are required to bring solutions to threats from home. Therefore, we approved and budgeted the establishment of the Israeli Guard that will allow tens of thousands of Israelis to join the security forces in the task of national defense of Israeli cities in routine and emergency situations."
"It was clear to me, the police chief and the Border Police commander, and first and foremost to the prime minister that Border Police is the first, immediate and best answer to the issue of public security," said Bar Lev. "I have no doubt that these moves we are making, and we will increase them, are already bringing and will continue to bring much stronger and more stable public security to the State of Israel."
"Today it is clear to everyone that it is not enough to strengthen the military arm of the State of Israel...we must improve and increase the strength of Israel Police."Israel Police Chief Kobi Shabtai
"Today we are taking another significant step in the readiness of the Israel Police and, in fact, the readiness of the State of Israel for times of war and emergency," said Shabtai. "Today it is clear to everyone that it is not enough to strengthen the military arm of the State of Israel with all its systems and capabilities, but we must improve and increase the strength of Israel Police as a belief in the internal security of the country."
"Today, looking back, we realize the great extent of the riots and acts of terrorism and we discover the heroism of the thousands of policemen and fighters who found themselves in the last line of defense against civilians whose property and lives were in danger," added the police chief, stressing that despite the large scale of the violence, "the rioters and terrorists encountered a determined, powerful and uncompromising police force."
Shabtai admitted that it took police a while to prepare large forces and that the initial response provided was by officers who were not qualified to handle such incidents, but stressed that "we managed in a few days to eradicate the riots in all parts of the country and, as part of Operation Law and Order, to arrest thousands of suspects."
The police chief called for more funds, manpower, resources and technology to be provided to police in order to ensure that they can meet all the tasks and challenges the future holds.
"Since its establishment, the State of Israel has faced a reality that dictates to its citizens a life in the shadow of terrorism, the need for constant defense against a security threat. A threat that could catch the innocent citizen - in the city, in the village, along the road, in the holy places, at any moment and without warning," said Cohen.
"We are fulfilling our operational and moral duty to you, the citizens of the country, and work day and night for you - with determination, decisiveness, courage and daring, to accomplish one, single purpose - to maintain your security, your right to live quietly in a country that is home to us."