Bill to Remove Landmine Fields in Israel Clears Final Knesset Hurdle

Israel has begun removing landmines along the border with Jordan; funding for the committee dedicated to removing the mines will be financed by the government and donations.

A bill to remove landmine fields in Israel was approved Monday at the Knesset plenum in its second and third reading, and was officially added to the s book of legislation.

The bill calls for the establishment of an official committee to monitor the removal of all landmine fields throughout the country, to which the government will allocate NIS 27 million.

Warning sign marking landmine fields.
Dror Artzi

MK Roni Bar On (Kadima), who initiated the bill, called the Knesset vote an important milestone. "After 63 years, Israel is joining the international community which has been dealing with banning unnecessary mines for a long time now," Bar On said.

"Funding for the project, which is estimated to cost millions of shekels, will come mostly from donations from humanitarian organizations," he added.

The mine hazard in Israel made headlines about a year ago, after a 10-year-old boy lost his leg after stepping on an anti-personnel mine in the Golan Heights while hiking with his family. Today the boy, Daniel Yuval, is the main face of a campaign for a mine-removal law.

Last month the Israel Defense Forces began removing mines along the border with Jordan.

The mines were planted between 30 and 40 years ago between the border fence and the actual border (the Jordan River, about 1.5 kilometers away), when Israel feared hostile activity on its eastern front. In the Golan Heights also, hundreds of minefields still form part of the defense line, in the event of war with Syria.

The IDF has been clearing only anti-tank mines, which are relatively easy to disarm, but more than 90 percent of the mines in the area are anti-personnel mines.

The IDF will not reveal the exact number of mines along the border with Jordan, but knowledgeable sources in the Central Command say that between 350,000 and 400,000 mines are buried along the 250-kilometer stretch.