Swords to Plowshares: Israel Makes a Farm Out of a Minefield

January 11, 2019

by: Matan Tzuri

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Israeli farmers near Gaza will be able to cultivate land once it is cleared of landmines under a new amendment. (Illustrative)

Friday, 11 January 2019 | Israeli farmers from communities bordering Gaza will have some 16,000 dunams [4,000 acres] of agricultural land allocated to them once the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] clears an area, dubbed “firezone,” from landmines and unexploded bombs. Swathes of Israeli farmland has been scorched by incendiary airborne devices launched into Israel by the militants in Gaza.

The Hevel Shalom area, under the jurisdiction of the Eshkol Regional Council—which borders Egypt and Gaza—has remained deserted for years due to landmines planted there decades ago. But the new amendment made to the Minefield Clearance Act, which went into effect this week, requires the defense establishment to clear all explosive devices from the area.

Gadi Yarkoni, the head of the Eshkol Regional Council praised the decision to transfer the lands to the local farmers, calling the amendment “important.”

“The decision to award the farmers a permanent ownership of the area…is an integral part of land regulations planned for our regional council…which would facilitate the demographic expansion in the region,” Yarkoni said.

The move comes in the wake of renewed violence along the southern border after several weeks of relative quiet. On Sunday, Gaza militants used a cluster of balloons to fly a Styrofoam airplane carrying an explosive device into southern Israel. The plane landed in a field in Sdot Negev Regional Council, near the Gaza border, and was neutralized by police sappers. The process caused the device to explode, but no damages or injuries were reported.

Two weeks ago, a cluster of approximately 10 balloons with an explosive device attached landed on Moshav Kfar Maimon, also located in the Sdot Negev Regional Council, close to the fence of a kindergarten. The incident also prompted a police response, who arrived at the scene to neutralize the device.

Posted on January 11, 2019

Source: (Ynetnews originally published this article on January 10, 2019. Time-related language has been modified to reflect our republication today. See original article at this link.)

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