Israel Distributes Arms, Imparts Training in Jewish Settlements Surrounding Gaza

The program encompasses providing weapons, ceramic vests, uniforms, shoes, and helmets to Jewish residents.
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  • 08:42 AM, February 6, 2024
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Israel Distributes Arms, Imparts Training in Jewish Settlements Surrounding Gaza
Israel distributes weapons to "local defense forces" or "standby units" in the northern settlements in January 2024 @IDF

In a move to enhance  security of Jewish settlements encircling Gaza, Israel has embarked on a program involving the distribution of assault rifies, helmets and bullet proof vests besides intensive training to private Jewish residents surrounding Gaza living in proximity of Palestinians.

The initiative, named the "Return of the Spirit" program, is spearheaded by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Ministry of Defense. Its primary goal is to fortify standby units and settlements located along the borders with Gaza. The program encompasses the provision of crucial equipment, including weapons, ceramic vests, uniforms, shoes, and helmets, all rigorously tested and meeting the highest standards.

Additional phases of equipping are on the horizon, with plans to supply more weapons and logistical equipment in the coming weeks. This concerted effort aims to empower defense forces and ensure they are well-prepared to respond effectively to any security challenges in the region.

Concurrently, the completion of equipment distribution to additional standby classes in the Northern Command highlights the comprehensive nature of the program. The training of settlement defense forces has been intensified since the onset of recent conflicts, and the program envisions further expansion to fortify the security of residents in the border areas, an Israeli MoD release said Monday.

“As part of the ongoing effort to strengthen the defense line in the north, we have begun a significant process of preparing the readiness units in the region. Members of the preparedness units demonstrate resilience and great strength, and we are proud to stand with them in defending the northern border of the State of Israel. We understand the magnitude of the moment and the responsibility placed on our shoulders, and we are highly prepared along the border and in the communities,” commander of the Home Front Command's Northern Command, Major General Alon Friedman said last month while training “local defense forces” and distributing weapons and aid to them.

This strategic move comes against the backdrop of a noteworthy event in October 2023, when over 2,000 young men from the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community volunteered for military service in response to a Hamas attack on civilians in southern Israel. Traditionally, the Ultra-Orthodox, or Haredim, who constitute around 15 percent of Israel's population, have had low participation in the military.

The recent surge in Haredi volunteers signifies a significant shift in perspective within the community towards military service. Historically, the Ultra-Orthodox community refrained from active participation in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), opting for full-time study of the Torah as their contribution to the nation's protection.

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