BY ROHAN PEARCE
According to the Israeli interior ministry, the demand for gun permits rose 75% over the last year.
In 2001, 7790 people applied for permits — almost twice the number of applications in 2000. In January of this year alone, 879 applications were submitted. The number of applications is likely to continue rising, as police Inspector-General Shlomo Aharonishsky has recommended that requirements for permits be watered-down.
One of the greatest concentrations of civilian gun-owners in Israel is in the settlements in the Occupied Territories — effectively mini-fortresses. Since the second intifada began, settlers have been responsible for the deaths of at least 44 Palestinians.
The settlements have for a long time been part of the "front line" of the Israeli attempt to crush the Palestinian resistance, although their importance as a para-military force has lessened somewhat, as the Israeli military relies increasingly on direct incursions into the Occupied Territories.
Last week, after the murder of a Palestinian high-school student, a woman from a settlement nearby tried to convince reporters not to photograph the scene, saying "Is it an issue if an Arab is murdered? It's not a story! It's not a story!"
From Green Left Weekly, March 13, 2002.
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