Gun Free Kitchen Tables (GFKT), founded in 2010, is a small arms disarmament and gun control project of Isha L’Isha Feminist Center. Leading the Gun Free Kitchen Tables Coalition (currently numbering 16 organizations), we work to disarm civil space in Israel and in the territories under its control. Rooted in a feminist analysis, GFKT aims to stem the violence enabled by ubiquitous small arms through preventive legislation, effective enforcement and comprehensive transparency about guns in civil space. GFKT incorporates consistent monitoring and fact-finding towards significantly reducing armed violence against women in and beyond their homes and holding both armed organizations and individuals accountable.
The project kicked off with an effort to implement the findings of a 2009 study exposing the hidden underbelly of Israel’s private security guard industry. A series of murders of guards’ family members (disproportionately, of women) were carried out in the domestic sphere with security firms’ off-duty guns. In 2008, Israel’s Gun Law was amended to restrict company arms to guards’ work places (clause 10c(b)). GFKT demanded the enforcement of this unenforced law and the disarmament tens of thousands of guards’ homes. Following years of non-enforcement, GFKT advocacy finally sent off-duty company guns into storage at guards’ worksites. After enforcement in August 2013, killings and murders with such guns ceased entirely. The law, however, was overturned in 2016, returning thousands of off-duty company guns into private homes.
In the ensuing years, at least four more killings were carried out with the guns of security companies sent home with guards after duty.
Our 2017 report Loose Guns: Israeli-controlled small arms in the civil sphere – How many guns and how much control? offered a groundbreaking assessment of actual small arms proliferation in the civil sphere. It outlined the arms-bearing organizations and parties and gauged overall levels of gun control. Loose Guns also traced a practice of discriminatory, selective gun law enforcement causing severe damage, first and foremost, to Palestinian citizens of Israel and impacting the lives of other marginalized communities as well. Based on the report, GFKT commenced thoughtfully coordinated work with Palestinian women’s groups from Israel, who began focused gun control work for the first time.
GFKT is growing a movement which strongly resists the current acceleration of small arms proliferation, by Israel’s government, and its increasing evasion of accountability. This young disarmament and gun control movement voices firm demands for preventive measures, transparency and accountability. It tracks and denounces the abuse of small arms by security personnel as well as civilians and promotes tightened oversight. GFKT rejects the fallacy that more guns mean more security.
Our Main Goals
Conceived and started as a partnership, the Gun Free Kitchen Tables Coalition currently joins 15 civil society and feminist organizations. Ongoing dialogue, mutual consultations and sharing, all crucial to real movement-building, form part of both our credo and our strategies. Already emerging today is a broad-based, diverse movement acting to roll back the over-armament of the civil spaces in which we live and move. Many of the Coalition partner groups, as well as additional organizations and independent activists, take part in the day to day work of GFKT. Based on the expertise they bring to the work they appear in the media with our messages, present them in parliament, represent our claims in court, take action on new media, bring data and awareness to their organizations and networks, integrating gun control issues into multiple organizational agendas, throughout civil society
Co-founder and Project Coordinator. Writer, independent scholar and feminist and human rights activist. Rela was among the founders of the New Profile Movement for the Demilitarization of Israeli Society in 1998. Alongside her varied academic pieces, her cross-genre books and writing integrate creative prose, critical thinking and research. Parts of Rela's bi-lingual Hebrew and English work have been translated into Turkish, German, French and Spanish.
Atty. Smadar Ben Natan
GFKT Co-founder. Smadar has had over twenty years of experience as a human rights lawyers and worked, in Israel, with human rights organizations such as Adala, New Profile and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel. As well as small arms disarmament and gun control, her fields of expertise include international law, criminal law, feminism, prisoners' rights and torture, Israel's legal system in the Occupied Territories and its military courts in particular. She is currently a visiting scholar at UCA Berkeley and completing her PhD in Law at Tel Aviv University. She has published academic articles, reports and book chapters as well as op-eds and blogs.
Atty. Meisa Irshaid
GFKT Legal Advisor. Meisa, an active attorney since 2010, joined the GFKT team in 2016. She holds a BA in Law and an MA in Gender Studies. A former Legal Advisor for the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel and staff member at the law office of Smadar Ben Natan, a Co-founder of GFKT, Meisa now operates an independent practice representing clients in the fields of family reunion, humanitarian status and human rights violations.