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Israel to form 'civilian national guard' following wave of attacks

New body set to have civilian volunteers and reserve soldiers, including officers who operate in the occupied West Bank
People gather at the scene of an attack in the city of Elad on 5 May 2022 that left three people dead (AFP)

The Israeli government will form a new “civilian national guard” to combat the recent wave of deadly attacks, the country’s prime minister announced on Sunday. 

The new force will include units of civilian volunteers and Israeli forces, including reserve soldiers and “border police”, which operate in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett instructed the country's national security council to present a proposal for the creation of the guard by the end of the month, in coordination with the ministry of internal security.

The announcement was made hours after Israeli forces arrested two Palestinians suspected of killing three Israelis on Thursday in the central city of Elad. 

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"Capturing the terrorists is not enough. We are in a new phase in the war on terror," Bennett said in a cabinet meeting. 

"The highest-priority task for the Israeli government is to restore personal security to the citizens of Israel," he added. 

Plans to establish a new national guard were first discussed a year ago, Israeli newspaper Haaretz said, following the outbreak of violence across Israeli and Palestinian cities in May. 

Two Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed between 10 and 21 May, as Israeli settlers and police clamped down on protesters demanding an end to Israeli aggressions in Gaza and in Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque. 

The Sunday announcement comes against the backdrop of growing tensions in Israel and Palestine. 

In the last two months, 18 Israeli civilians and police officers were killed in different stabbings and shootings by Palestinians, including one who was killed in a West Bank settlement deemed illegal under international law.

In the same period, at least 27 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces and settlers in the West Bank. 

Israeli forces conduct violent raids, sometimes deadly, in Palestinian towns and villages in the West Bank on a near-daily basis.

Since the start of the year, at least 50 Palestinians have been killed in various incidents, including two women and seven minors, according to a tally by the Palestinian health ministry.

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