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Monday, December 24, 2012

Israel distances itself from NRA

From the New York Daily News:
When it comes to Israel and school shootings, Wayne LaPierre doesn’t know what he’s talking about, Israeli security experts said Sunday.

Such shootings are very rare in Israel and have been associated with terror attacks, not crazed gunmen, they said.

Appearing on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, NRA honcho LaPierre said: “Israel had a whole lot of school shootings, until they did one thing. They said we’re going to stop it and they put armed security in every school and they have not had a problem since then.”

But Yigal Palmor, spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, said the situation in Israel was “fundamentally different” from that in the United States.

“We didn’t have a series of school shootings, and they had nothing to do with the issue at hand in the United States. We had to deal with terrorism,” said Palmor.

“What removed the danger was not the armed guards but an overall anti-terror policy and anti-terror operations which brought street terrorism down to nearly zero over a number of years,” he said. “It would be better not to drag Israel into what is an internal American discussion,” he added.

“There is no comparison between maniacs with psychological problems opening fire at random to kill innocent people and trained terrorists trying to murder Israeli children,” said Reuven Berko, a retired Israeli Army colonel and senior police officer.

In recent years, restrictions on gun ownership in Israel have been tightened, not relaxed.

“Israeli citizens are not allowed to carry guns unless they are serving in the army or working in security-related jobs that require them to use a weapon,” said Berko.

The worst attack on an Israeli school was in 1974, when terrorists from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine took 115 people hostage in a school in Maalot in northern Israel. Twenty-five people were killed as Israeli commandos stormed the building, 22 of them children.

“The attempt to compare the two tragedies is absurd,” said Prof. Gerald Steinberg of Bar-Ilan University. “Palestinian terror attacks like one one at Maalot — the goal of which was to use the children as hostages in order to free other terrorists — are totally different from crimes committed by deranged people with guns.”

Despite having a standing army of more than 100,000 and police and security guards carrying guns on the street, Israel has strict firearms licensing and supervision.
Licenses must be renewed regularly and cannot be issued to people with a history of mental problems or a criminal background.

“In a country where hundreds of thousands of people carry firearms, it is essential to manage the training, licensing and authorization of those who wish to be armed,” said Yakov Amit, head of the firearms licensing department of the Public Security Ministry.