(Jerusalem) The Israeli government on Sunday approved a decision to form a national guard, officials said, with opponents fearing it would operate as a “private militia” under National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.

A committee — made up of members of “Israeli security agencies” — will decide whether the chief of police, or another entity, will lead the guard, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office said.

The scope of action of this guard will be established by this committee within 90 days, added this source.

“The National Guard will deal with national emergencies such as the unrest that took place during Operation Guardians of the Walls,” the office added, referring to clashes between Israel and the Palestinian movement Hamas in May. 2021.

In eleven days, 260 people (including fighters) on the Palestinian side – notably in the Gaza Strip – and 14 people in Israel, including a soldier, had been killed.

A statement from Mr. Ben-Gvir’s office had previously said that the National Guard would deal with “emergency scenarios, nationalist crime (assaults or attacks against Jews according to Mr. Ben-Gvir, editor’s note), of terrorism, and strengthening the sovereignty” of Israel.

Operating under his ministry, it will be made up of 1,800 members who will “bring security back” to the Israelis, Ben-Gvir said, according to a statement from his office.

The creation of a national guard was demanded by Itamar Ben-Gvir in exchange for his agreement to freeze a controversial judicial reform project, which sparked a vast protest movement, and a strike that paralyzed the whole country on Monday.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid on Sunday criticized the move, saying the government was cutting the budget of all other ministries “to fund Ben-Gvir’s private militia”, calling it “an extremist fantasy of delusional people”.

It is “shocking” to “think that a private militia would be trained by a minister who embarrasses us with his lack of understanding and who has been found guilty of supporting a terrorist group and inciting racism”, wrote on Twitter former Minister of Public Security Omer Bar Lev.

Mr. Ben-Gvir was charged more than 50 times as a youth with inciting violence or hate speech, and convicted in 2007 of supporting a terrorist group and inciting racism.