By: Arye Green
Agricultural terror struck Israel again on Sunday night when a grain silo was set on fire in the small northern village of Nahalal. Following a recent series of similar incidents, farmers across Israel have protested the government’s failure to prevent such crimes.
Over the last year, Gazan terrorists have set fire to hundreds of acres of farmland in southern Israel with fire balloons and kites.
This rampant agricultural terrorism often irreparably damages Israeli farmers, who claim law enforcement authorities are not doing enough to combat the problem.
“The phenomenon of agricultural terror has become a national epidemic, and if the Israeli authorities do not address the issue, it will become one of Israel’s biggest challenges,” said Yaron Belhasan, head of the Israel Fruit Growers Association.
“The eradication of agricultural terror must be a priority for the current and upcoming Israeli governments, and certainly, an agriculture minister must be appointed urgently to combat the growing phenomenon of farmers lacking basic personal security,” he added.
Uri Dorman, chairman of the Galilee Development Company, said the phenomenon shows no sign of slowing down, and called on the Israeli government to find the necessary budget to deal with the issue.
“Unfortunately, agricultural terrorism has not ceased and is not decreasing. It continues to hurt farmers across the country and the state must act as quickly as possible to eliminate this phenomenon. Farmers should be provided a special budget for the technological means that will provide real-time information about what is happening on their land. In addition, the government should fund a special insurance scheme for farmers, that will protect them against damages from agricultural terrorism,” he said.
“The role of agriculture, apart from independent food production, is to maintain the open spaces of the State of Israel. This terrorism is trying to weaken us and prevent us from being farmers, causing the abandonment of state-owned land. We expect the government to find a proper solution to alleviate this phenomenon and to fully compensate farmers,” he added.
In light of what farmers claim to be an unfitting governmental response to agricultural terrorism, non-governmental organizations such as ‘HaShomer HaChadash’ began supporting farmers’ security efforts, watching and guarding their farms at night.
In order to assist farmers in the Negev and the Galilee, some 2,500 of the organization’s volunteers participate in its Farmland Watch program on a monthly basis.
Despite these efforts, agricultural crime continues to harm farmers, who lack the necessary means to protect their livelihoods.