1 of 7 | An Israeli Jewish woman attends a handgun training session Monday at the Caliber 3 Counter Terror and Security Academy in Gush Etzion, West Bank. Israelis are rushing to obtain gun licenses following the October 7 Hamas massacre along the Gaza border. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 7 (UPI) -- Israelis, and a rising number of women, are arming themselves with guns and learning martial arts in the wake of last month's deadly Hamas attack.
According to Caliber 3, Israel's largest counter-terror and defense-training school, there has been a huge spike as double -- or even triple -- the number of women seek guns and training.
"On Oct. 7, we saw that people with weapons at home saved their families," said Sharon Gat, Caliber 3 school leader. "Since Oct. 7, many women have been coming to Caliber 3 to get licenses and train. They're doing it because a lot of women go out alone, live alone, or are at home alone while their husbands are away."
In addition to seeking guns and training, a rising number of Israelis are also attending krav maga self defense classes to learn martial arts.
More than 1,400 Israelis were killed in the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7, and more than 240 were taken hostage, according to Israeli officials. The Ministry of Health in Ramallah says more than 10,000 Palestinians have died during Israel's military campaign in response to the attacks.
While more Israelis -- who have never served in the Israel Defense Forces -- purchase guns, Gat believes the safety risk of public gun ownership in Israel is not as high as it is in the United States.
"Israel is doing it logically with background checks, so that it doesn't give guns to people with criminal or terrorist pasts or people with mental health issues," he said. "Anyone who is fit to own a gun has to undergo a day of training and repeat it once a year."
One day after the Oct. 7 attack, and Israel's declaration of war with Hamas, the country's National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir issued a directive to arm more civilians with firearms.
"Today I directed the Firearms Licensing Division to go on an emergency operation, in order to allow as many citizens as possible to arm themselves," Gvir wrote Oct. 8, in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
The emergency operation expedited the process to get guns into the hands of Israeli citizens within a week, by allowing a phone interview instead of a physical interview. It also allowed citizens to purchase 100 bullets instead of 50, and waived expired gun permits.
Typically, an application for a gun license in Israel requires a medical exam, residency for at least three years, and a minimum age of 27 if the applicant has not served in the army.
Even before last month's attack, gun ownership in Israel had been on the rise amid surging violence between Palestinians and Israelis. Following an attack in January that killed nine people, Netanyahu faced criticism for failing to protect Israelis.
"I blame the prime minister. He's in charge of the army, security. I blame them," Shimon Mizrahi said.
Earlier this year, Israeli gun ownership stood at 2% of the population compared to about 30% in the United States.
In September, Israeli police were already urging the public to carry guns during Yom Kippur.
"We reiterate the call of the chief of police and the head of operations and call on the public to carry weapons and be trained in their use when necessary, to bear their weapons during these days, even in places of prayer and family entertainment," Israeli police spokesperson Eli Levi said in a statement.
"In the current situation, people feel a lack of security," Gat said Monday. "After what we saw on Oct. 7, there is no choice for Israel but to make sure that every family has a weapon and can defend itself."