Israeli soldiers ordered to take guns home when off duty

Israel's new Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot visits the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, following his swearing-in ceremony in February 2016 (AFP Photo/Gil Cohen-Magen)

Jerusalem (AFP) - Israeli soldiers have been ordered to take their guns with them when off duty to allow them to intervene in the event of Palestinian attack, the military said on Tuesday.

The decision comes after off-duty soldier Tuvia Weissman, 21, was stabbed to death at a supermarket in an Israeli industrial zone in the occupied West Bank on Thursday.

His wife told Israeli media that Weissman, who was a dual Israeli-American citizen, had asked his superiors if he could carry his gun with him to protect himself, but they refused and required him to leave it at his base's armoury.

Israeli military chief of staff Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot has now "ordered that soldiers carry their weapons even outside of their service," including while going home for leave, an army spokeswoman told AFP.

Soldiers had not previously been allowed to take their guns with them while on leave out of fear they could be stolen or used to commit suicide.

All Jewish Israelis are required to perform military service after they reach the age of 18.

Thursday's attack was part of a wave of Palestinian knife, gun and car-ramming assaults that erupted in October.

The violence has claimed the lives of 27 Israelis, as well as an American and an Eritrean.

In addition, 176 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, most while carrying out attacks but others during clashes and demonstrations.