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Founded in 2010, Gun Free Kitchen Tables (GFKT) is a small arms disarmament and gun control initiative working to disarm civil space in Israel and the territories under its control. GFKT challenges claims that more guns mean more security. Its feminist analysis of the effects of militarization on individual and collective security disrupts their normalization throughout Israeli society.

The GFKT Campaign, a coalition of 15 feminist, civil and human rights organizations, employs multiple strategies including: research, independent monitoring and fact-finding, interventions for preventive legislation and policy-making, advocacy, court petitions and civil suits exacting accountability.

GFKT focused first on the over-armament of private security guards, urging enforcement of an unenforced law restricting the guns of security firms to guards’ work sites and work shifts. Every year, for 11 years (2002-2013), the off-duty guns of security firms killed people in homes and families, most of them women. GFKT recorded at least 38 victims, 20 of them women, placing the yearly average of such killings at over 3. Due to GFKT advocacy, the law was finally enforced in 2013, disarming tens of thousands of homes and reducing guards’ armament by half. For almost 4 years, killings with off-duty company guns stopped completely.
     Ignoring and overriding these facts, the Ministry of Public Security initiated an amendment to this law, sending company guns back to homes and streets. 2015 saw the start of a lethal and radical shift in Israel’s small arms policy, including authorization for security guards to bear company arms at all times. Killings with guards’ off-duty guns soon resumed. In 2017-2018 they were used to shoot and kill three, two women and a man. Refuting government claims that they would combat terror, no evidence from this period shows attacks stopped by such arms .

GFKT approaches the proliferation of small arms in civil space as an interconnected whole. Our groundbreaking report, Loose Guns: Israeli Controlled Small Arms in the Civil Sphere (January 2017), applied civil oversight to all arms bearers in civil space; the military, the police, Jewish West Bank settlers, civilians in Israel bearing arms both legally and illegally, as well as private security guards. Using this baseline analysis, GFKT proceeded to broaden and diversify the feminist, civil society movement for small arms disarmament and control.

GFKT challenges reckless small arms practices and policies – in street protests, in courtrooms, in classrooms and in parliament. Careful coalition work and close coordination with Palestinian feminist groups from Israel, continues to sustain and expand this challenge.

Key goals
1. Reframing discourse on small arms in Israel from a national security issue to a civil society issue.

2. Engaging growing parts of the public in an open, democratic, and participatory process around guns and human security.

3. Galvanizing discourse on gender and small arms, examining correlations between militarism, sexism, racism and gun violence.

4. Challenging government policies that obstruct data transparency on the use and proliferation of small arms.

5. Producing added transparent and accountable information on small arms based on accurate research and analysis.

6. Initiating interventions and litigations in pursuit of accountability.

7. Advocating for a preventive, responsible and transparent national policy on small arms. 
Mass Civilian Armament Unleashed

In late August 2018, Israel’s Minister of Public Security announced drastically revised criteria of eligibility for a civilian gun license. The ministry estimated the number of newly eligible people at 600,000. The major defining criterion is military rifle training, making Jewish men the vast majority of the newly eligible. Adding hundreds (or even tens) of thousands of civilian guns in homes and on streets to over fifty thousand guns already borne in civil space by the military, the police, the prison services, the border police, constitutes a lethal break with past policies. More guns on the streets, the ministry claims, are vital for addressing the high-risk security situation. But attacks by Palestinians, say Israel’s General Security Service (“Shabak”) and the army, have dropped dramatically  and consistently since 2015.

GFKT follows the findings of international research linking rises in small arms proliferation with rises in gun crime and murder rates, especially women’s murders, and with rises in the rates of suicide.
Taking small arms policy to court
On November 29th 2018, Israel’s new small arms policy was taken to court. GFKT petitioned the High Court of Justice to stop mass civilian armament. Officially filed by 7 members of the GFKT Campaign and joined by 3 additional feminist and civil rights groups, the petition demands cancellation of the new licensing criteria and reinstatement of the former ones. Any new criteria, it claims, should be instated as regulations rather than left to ministerial discretion. Direct ministerial power over life-threatening questions defies reasonable governance and fails democratic standards. GFKT’s petition states: “Since instatement of the criteria … the foundational principle underlying these has been that the state of Israel does not recognize a given right to bear arms. Licenses are granted solely to groups with specific needs for firearms.” The petition meanwhile demands cancellation of the executive order authorizing private security guards to bear company arms beyond worksites and work shifts. A court hearing is scheduled for May 19 2019.

Number of victims killed in homes with the off-duty guns of private security firms

Presented as part of GFKT's petition to the High Court of Justice
to cancel a new and lethal small arms policy implemented in 2018;

Research: GFKT Staff; Infographic: Atty. Anne Suciu, Ass. for Civil Rights in Israel, a GFKT member group.

Politicized Prevention

Two decades of relatively restrictive gun licensing for civilians demonstrated results where applied. Enforcement in Israel’s Jewish community reduced civilian gun ownership and lowered rates of gun use in Jewish women’s murders. At the same time, in Israel’s Palestinian community discriminatory non-enforcement allowed unlicensed armament. Local ‘strong men’ (armed with guns from licensed, mainly military, sources) generate rising levels of gun crime. These include extremely disproportionate rates of women’s murders with guns. Rather than drawing the conclusions, expanding enforcement equally and reinforcing prevention, the minister’s new policy is spreading gun crime.

GFKT research lays factual foundations that accurately guide our demands for preventive measures in legislation, enforcement and policy. Diverse groups face very different small arms realities. Therefore, GFKT shares and builds knowledge across communities as we feed and grow a broad, inclusive movement for small arms disarmament.
Building knowledge and resistance across divides
GFKT reduces the data void on small arms in Israel. Anomalous among “developed” countries and many “un-developed” countries, lack of data on gun crime poses a major obstacle to civil (and government!) oversight. GFKT actively encourages campaign partners and independent activists to engage in fact-finding and research on small arms.
  • The action-oriented study group facilitated by GFKT learned from models of small arms activism throughout the world and proceeded to engage in an in-depth study of the local small arms reality. In 2018, research-in-progress was presented by 5 group members.
  • GFKT’s petition to the High Court of Justice consolidated extensive research while also mining new facts in its succinct background and arguments. Authored by attorneys and activists from several GFKT member groups, its preparation spread ownership of detailed knowledge on small arms.
  • In 2018, GFKT facilitated innovative small arms work in a women's group from the Galilee town Mghar, at their invitation.

"Mr. Minister, What have you done?!

Addressing tens of thousands at a Tel Aviv protest: Atty. Maisam Jaljuli, of GFKT member group Itach-Maaki
Democratic Gun Debate Hung Out to Dry

As of August 2018, the new policy of mass civilian armament has swiftly been putting “facts on the ground,” in the form of more guns and more license holders. Meanwhile, a new gun law, tabled in November 2017, languishes on legislators’ desks. GFKT and others have voiced opposition to the bill, which proposes increased impunity and decreased accountability. But, the minister and his ministry have charged ahead with mass licensing, preempting a democratic gun debate responding to demands for responsible, preventive gun law.


GFKT galvanized bottom-up democratic discussion of gun law and small arms policy. In 2018 we highlighted the urgency of prioritizing prevention and extended civil society engagement in support for small arms disarmament and control.
 Generating democratic voices for prevention
GFKT movement building was highly evident in 2018:
  • An Expert Gender Opinion authored by GFKT activists and sponsored by all members of the GFKT Campaign, joined by two feminist Palestinian groups from Israel, outlines measures for sharply decreasing gender-specific and group-specific risks. When Israel's parliament reconvenes after elections, this in-depth GFKT analysis and critique will greet and challenge legislators.
  • An ad-hoc network of dozens of women’s groups coordinated actions and demands to end violence against women near the end of the year. Protests were attended by tens of thousands. GFKT introduced network leaders to the gendered implications of Israel’s new small arms policy. GFKT policy recommendations, adopted by the network, featured among the list of practical demands  presented to Israel’s Prime Minister.
= GFKT claims and demands featured in classrooms, vigils, demonstrations and over 40 media items in 2018. At a December 4th rally in Tel Aviv,  tens of thousands heard a speaker from the GFKT Campaign call out: ““Mr. Minister, What have you done?! You have put the gun on our kitchen table!”

"Situational Prevention"
State responsibility for preventing situations that enable gun crimes

Lead ad in a GFKT facebook campaign;
Galvanizing opposition to the new and lethal small arms policy

Financial Overview 2018

Testifying to its visibility and credibility in Israel’s civil society, the GFKT Campaign, a national coalition, continued growing in 2018 and now numbers 15 organizations promoting small arms disarmament and gun control. GFKT also conducts coordinated work with two Palestinian feminist organizations from Israel and with the Palestinian-Jewish Mahapach-Taghrir organization. Numerous independent activists are affiliated with GFKT as well.

GFKT Campaign Members
Association for Civil Rights in Israel; Coalition of Women for Peace; Hollaback Israel; Isha L’Isha Feminist Center; Israel Women’s Network; Itach-Maaki: Women Lawyers for Social Justice; Kulan; L.O.: Combating Violence Against Women; New Profile; Noga: The Israeli Center for Rights of Crime Victims; Physicians for Human Rights; Politically Coret; Psychoactive; Tmura: The Antidiscrimination Legal Center; Women and Their Bodies.
GFKT Staff
Meisa Irshaid
Noga Kadman
Rela Mazali

GFKT would not be possible without the financial, organizational and in-kind support it is gifted by public and private foundations, individual donors, coalition members, and volunteers, based in Europe, Africa, the U.S. and Israel.

Your belief in our work and our goals is a mainstay in GFKT action to counteract the militarism precluding a just and viable peace in our region and adversely impacting human security and women's security.
GFKT is proud and grateful that the Isha L’Isha Feminist Center is its supportive, organizational home.

We are moved by the GFKT Sustainers’ Circle of individual donors, which once again stood beside us in 2018, further diverrsifying and expanding our support base.

Donors in 2018
Mira Ariel                   
Shelley Berlowitz 
Nancy Bernstein
The Dafna Fund
Marta Drury & Kerry Lobel 
Cynthia Enloe 
Eve Ensler
Nan Gefen & Rabbi Jonathan Omer-Man
Rachel Giora 
Global Fund for Women
Sally Gottesman
Terry Greenblatt
Int'l Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA)
Barbara Kane
Kvinna till Kvinna
Lush Fund
Nes Amim Dialogue Project
New Israel Fund
Glenda & David Minkin
Betty Reardon
Rockefeller Brothers Fund
Rosa Luxemburg Foundation
Orly Nathan
Penny Rosenwasser
Samuel Rubin Foundation
Katherine Sklar
Urgent Action Fund
Women's World Day of Prayer
Judith Yahav



Please support the work of Gun Free Kitchen Tables.
Your help will enable us to continue to produce the relevant information we need to succeed at the urgent work we do.

A tax-deductible contribution can be made via our home page
or sent to the New Israel Fund,
marked donor-advised to Isha l’Isha for Gun Free Kitchen Tables
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Isha L'Isha Feminist Center
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