Associated Press on Palestinian Terror Wave: ‘Many Settlers Carry Guns’
by Akiva Van Koningsveld
In an article about Palestinian terrorist attacks, which have repeatedly targeted Israeli drivers on the highway crossing the West Bank town of Hawara in recent weeks, the Associated Press inserts a claim that could be perceived as an underhanded jab at some of the terror victims:
Hawara lies on a busy road in the northern part of the West Bank that is used by Israeli residents of nearby Jewish settlements. Many settlers carry guns. [Emphasis added]
The AP’s insertion in a piece about Palestinian violence, while presumably intended to explain how a terror victim was able to return fire during a Palestinian shooting attack, is inaccurate and potentially inflammatory.
As HonestReporting recently outlined, very few Israelis own guns. Israel’s Firearm Law of 1949 and its related ordinances do not recognize any “right to bear arms,” and private gun ownership is subject to many restrictions.
Although the law makes it easier to obtain a carry permit for residents of designated dangerous locations, including communities beyond the Green Line, the AP’s assertion that “many settlers” are armed can be easily debunked.
According to a January 2023 data analysis by Haaretz, only a minority of Israelis living in settlements beyond the 1967 lines own firearms. For example, among large cities in the Judea and Samaria district, Ariel is the leader in gun ownership, but just under one in ten of its 20,000 inhabitants are licensed to carry a gun. Next on the list is Maale Adumim, where the number stands at six percent of its 38,000 residents.
While gun ownership is somewhat more common in smaller communities that have suffered from large-scale terror attacks, the notion that “Israeli settlers” are somehow armed to the teeth is far removed from the truth. In fact, one of the brothers murdered in the February 26 attack near Huwara was denied a gun permit due to his not meeting the requirements.
Meanwhile, recent figures published by the National Security Ministry reveal that, in total, only around 150,000 Israeli citizens have a personal gun license — or some 2.6% percent of the entire adult population (15-64). This figure excludes weapons held by IDF soldiers, police officers, border guards, and other security personnel.
So why doesn’t AP’s text reflect the facts?
The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.