Bill targets criminal gangs guarding apartment buildings

A bill proposed by MK Yossi Beilin (Meretz) to stop gangsters from deploying personal bodyguards in residential buildings came closer to becoming law on Tuesday, after receiving approval from the Knesset Committee for Internal Affairs. The proposal, which is now ready for a first reading in the Knesset, would make it illegal for individuals to have guards in a building without receiving police approval. Beilin said he first got the idea for the proposal two years ago, "when people told me how their lives [had] turned into nightmares because of the security guards, who began to interrogate tenants. Gang wars, which can be sparked because of the guards, also put the tenants at risk. I very much hope the bill will pass quickly. There is no ideological opposition to it, and the government supports it," he added. Beilin's original proposal stipulated that guards could not be stationed without the approval of every tenant living in the building. But police said that would expose civilians to intimidation tactics aimed at ensuring their approval. "The criminal can simply [forcibly] obtain the tenant's agreement, which would have no real value," Police Supt. Aviad Soher of the Public Security Ministry's Intelligence Branch said during a meeting of the Knesset Committee. Soher's comments resulted in an amendment to the bill, which now calls for police approval. According to Beilin, crime bosses favor middle-class neighborhoods, turning the "tenants into human shields."