Paramilitary: Israel Returns to Self Defense


October 26, 2023: One thing that disrupted the early October Hamas offensive from Gaza was the individual initiative of many Israelis. Most of these were men who had served in the army and learned that initiative was not an option but often the best, and often only, way to survive a life-threatening satiation. Many cultures discourage initiative, and you rarely see it being used. Many Western nations, including Israel, encourage initiative. Initiative is one reason that the United States has led the world in job creation and new inventions for over a century. Israel is a much smaller country and has only been around for about 70 years. Yet in that brief time Israel has become one of the most dynamic, entrepreneurial and prosperous nations in the region.

Initiative is always threatened by most people who find comfort in doing things the way they have always been done. This often, but not always, changes during an emergency when it is obvious that the usual methods are not working and trying something new suddenly becomes more acceptable.

The effectiveness of initiative was demonstrated often by Israelis during the Hamas offensive. Army veterans, usually officers, with combat experience, would encounter an area that was under attack by Hamas, or about to be. The veteran would alert the local civilians and get them to bomb shelters. Since the 1950s, commercial or residential buildings have been required to have a bomb shelter. These shelters are not as effective against gunmen unless you manually secure the bomb shelter doors. If you know what the threat is, you can prevent someone from opening the shelter. Most shelter doors will resist gunfire and exploding grenades.

With the Hamas gunmen, if they could not easily get into a bomb shelter, they would move on to find a more vulnerable target. This is how a lot of Israeli civilians survived the Hamas raiders. In addition to getting civilians into shelters, initiative was also demonstrated by finding out if any of the locals had weapons and if so, organizing a defense force to ambush the Hamas men as they entered the area where most people were in shelters. This gunfire, even if only from a few pistols, would also discourage the Hamas men from coming any further.

One result of this use of initiative was to encourage the government to arm many towns and settlements with a supply of firearms, train locals to use and find which residents had used weapons in the army or police. While firearm permits are easy to obtain in Israel, most people don’t bother unless they live in very dangerous areas. Less than two percent if Israelis own a pistol or rifle. Many Israelis who could get a gun permit don’t, because they consider it dangerous to have around their home. The recent Hamas carnage has changed attitudes. If Israel does enact a law that will allow localities to obtain and store firearms for emergencies, that could work. Israelis living in border areas, especially near Gaza or Lebanon, would find the proposed new firearms law useful.




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