In April 1974, in the wake of the transfer of homeland security responsibility from the Israel Defense Force to the Israel Police, the Israeli government passed a resolution calling for the creation of a Civil Guard in Israel. On July 10, 1974, the government decided to establish a Civil Guard, which would operate alongside the Israel Police.
The Civil Guard is a superb example of a grassroots volunteer organization whose members include Israeli citizens from all walks of life and from all social sectors. Today, the Civil Guard is a volunteer organization which operates within the framework of the Israel Police, and plays an important role in the solution of the homeland security needs of Israel's citizens.
The first time the Civil Guard played a major role in Israel's security was in 1977. In preparation of the late Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat's historic visit to Israel, the Israel Police planned one of the largest and most complicated public security operations in Israeli history. Operation Gate was the first significant operation in which Civil Guard volunteers were integrated into the activities of local police stations, which were almost completely vacant of police officers, who had been deployed for the Sadat visit.
In 1981, in the wake of the close collaboration of the Israel Police and Civil Guard volunteers, an experimental pilot project was established, called Matmid, which incorporated special uniformed Civil Guard units. The concept was formally adopted in 1982, and units of uniformed Civil Guard volunteers began to operate in regular police activities such as patrols, detective work, traffic enforcement and crime prevention.
It was not long before the Knesset, Israel's parliament, passed an amendment establishing the powers of Civil Guard volunteers. The amendment, which went into effect in January 1989, specified that the "Israel Police may enlist the assistance of the Civil Guard in police activities related to the protection of the lives and property of citizens."
In the 1990's, the Civil Guard was Israel's largest volunteer organization in Israel, with tens of thousands of volunteers representing a vast spectrum of religious affiliations, ethnic communities and age brackets. The Civil Guard's volunteers hail from across Israel and from the various ideological sectors which make up the fabric of Israeli society.
In 1998, Police Commissioner Yehuda Vilk decided to incorporate the Civil Guard as an integral part of the Israel Police. The decision allowed the volunteers to take a more active role in the Israel Police's Community and Civil Guard Division.
A couple of years ago another major change took place when Major General Uzi Rosen, head of the Israel Police's community outreach division, established a Community Policing Center program. The program relies heavily on collaboration with the Civil Guard, and has become a very successful, cost-effective model. In addition, police officers specializing in community policing, together with Civil Guard volunteers, have become partners in police work and have contributed to the Israel Police's increased efficacy, particularly in fighting crime and in dealing with road accidents.
This year marks the 35th anniversary of the founding of the Civil Guard. The organization has come a long way since its creation. The Civil Guard has been an active partner in the strategic and historic changes that have taken place in the Israel Police. Today, after three and a half decades, the Civil Guard is a significant force that has had a major impact on police work and has helped to improve the quality of life in Israel.