Seeking local production, Israel to buy new assault rifles

JERUSALEM — Israel plans to buy “tens of thousands” of assault rifles from local businesses as part of a “requirement to renew and strengthen [Israel Defense Forces’] weapons stockpile,” the Defense Ministry announced this week.

The push to ensure independent arms production comes as the Biden administration says the US is working on a deal aimed at ensuring at least a six-week cessation of hostilities and the release of all hostages.

A ministry spokesman said the call for local weapons did not represent a change in policy. The ministry noted that “the supply of American weapons will also continue.”

But retired Brigadier General. General Amir Avivi, president and founder of the Israel Defense and Security Forum, which works to promote Israel’s arms production, takes a different view.

“The defense leadership has already understood that the State of Israel cannot afford to depend on others for equipment,” Avivi said. “In addition to what Israel has experienced since October 7, the Russia-Ukraine war also reinforces this thesis.’

He noted that the Ukrainewhich relies on foreign aid, is in a difficult position.

“Israel is paying the price for neglecting its own production capacity,” Avivi explained. “Now he has a desire to bridge the gaps.”

“It starts with a competition for assault rifles and will continue with shells and rockets,” he added.

Two domestic companies — Israel Weapon Industries in central Israel and Emtan from the north — make AR-15 rifles and may compete. Neither could be immediately reached for comment.

The new supply is intended to replace rifles worn out in the war against Hamas. Those selected will join the current inventory, which includes the M16 and Tavor rifles, among others.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jally Greenberg is Defense News’ Israel correspondent. He has experience reporting on financial affairs as well as defense and cyber companies.

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