Honey Producers Threaten Vigilante Action Against Thieves

Israeli honey producers, assisted by IDF and Border Guard forces, raided the area of Shweikeh in Samaria early Tuesday, and recovered some 100 stolen beehives.

Gil Ronen, | updated: 09:53

Honey producers are furious at what they term the "anarchy" that enables Arabs from Judea and Samaria to steal Jewish honey with impunity, and at the sharp rise in such thefts in the past two months. The Jewish honey producers are threatening to take the law into their own hands, and have made this message clear to their Arab counterparts in Judea and Samaria.

Shimshon Erlinger, Deputy General Manager of Israel's Honey Council, says that 900 beehives were stolen from Israel by PA Arabs in the past two months alone, as compared with 1,500 stolen beehives in all of 2006. Most of the thefts are from the Sharon and Emek Hefer areas, and are usually carried out with the help of Israeli- Arabs, who use sealed trucks with Israeli license plates to ferry the contraband into PA territory.

Erlinger says there are "massive orders" in the PA for stolen Israeli honey, and that Arab honey producers' ineptness causes many of their hives to collapse. "The easiest solution is to plunder the Jews," he told IsraelNationalNews Tuesday.

"The state of Israel has abandoned us," says Erlinger. "When they do catch a thief, they release him in less time than it took you to file the complaint. In the end he gets a plea bargain, pays a small fine, and goes off happily to steal again. The producer, however, has been devastated."

"From now on we will not be tzadikim (saints)," says Erlinger. "We have decided that when we go on raids we will not only return the hives that are clearly marked as Israeli, but also the ones that have had the identifying marks removed. Let them chase us instead of us chasing them."

Erlinger is quick to point out a connection to the case of Shai Dromi, the farmer who shot Bedouin thieves - killing one of them - who poisoned his dog and attempted to steal sheep. "Whoever thinks Shai Dromi is an exceptional case doesn't know where he is living," he says. "If the state doesn't wake up and defend its citizens, the citizens will take the law into their own hands. Shai Dromi is a spark, and if this doesn't light the spotlight on the issue what comes later could be anarchy."

Erlinger says he met with an Arab honey producer from the Jericho area and told him, "If we are unable to grow bees, neither will you. We will make your lives miserable. Just as we can't sleep at nights, you won't sleep at nights."

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