Israel Cabinet Funds Ben-Gvir’s National Guard


The Israeli cabinet has approved budget cuts across ministries to fund a proposed “national guard” led by National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir. The budget for the project is estimated at $276m and will be funded by skimming 1-1.5% of the budgets of other ministries. The armed unit, which would report directly to Ben-Gvir, is intended to fight terrorism and deal with civil unrest nationwide. Critics argue that the force could be used against anti-government demonstrators or the Palestinian and Arab population. The attorney general has expressed doubts about the legality of the national guard, and it also faces parliamentary hurdles.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid has criticised the cuts in health, education and security budgets to fund what he calls Ben-Gvir’s “private army”. David Tzur, former district commander of the Tel Aviv police force, has argued that there is no need for a separate force and that the existing police force should be strengthened. Civil rights groups and opposition politicians have expressed concern over the proposal, with former army chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot describing it as a “severe event that destabilises the principles of using force in the country and endangers the country”.