New Law Would Give Civil Guards Some Police Powers

Israeli police. Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Israeli police in Yerushalayim. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Knesset Interior Committee authorized a law for its first Knesset reading that would allow Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan to expand the responsibilities of Civil Guard volunteers and allow them to arrest individuals whom they observed committing a crime, and who refused to wait until police arrived.

Civil Guards are civilian volunteers recognized by police and the IDF as community watchpeople, who carry weapons, are authorized to step in and prevent terrorists from carrying out attacks and the like. However, they are not police, and until now have been only able to respond to a crime by calling police, who may not arrive in time to prevent their absconding. The new law would allow Civil Guards to use force to subdue individuals whom they observed committing a crime and hold them until police arrive.

In addition, the Guards would be able to enter homes and other buildings when there is a suspicion that there is a “credible threat” of a crime or security-related incident. The Guards will not be required to wait for warrants in order to enter these places.

The bill will now be prepared for its first reading. It is expected to be opposed by several opposition parties, including Meretz and the United Arab List.

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