Farmers from Kibbutz Gal’ed and Moshav Givat Nili, both located in northern Israel near Wadi Ara, discovered to their dismay on Wednesday that the fences of their communities had been cut and damaged by unknown culprits.
The farmers told Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew website that they believe the damage had been caused by Arab shepherds from nearby Wadi Ara, who were seeking revenge after the local planning and building committee ordered that an illegal barn which was built in the area be demolished.
The lands of both Gal’ed and Givat Nili border with Arab villages in Wadi Ara, and each year their residents suffer from theft and sabotage to the fences. The farmers estimated the damage caused to the fences Wednesday at 200,000 shekels, and added that the accumulated damage over the years amounts to millions of shekels.
Ron Mordechai, a farmer from Kibbutz Gal’ed, told Arutz Sheva that in the past two years alone the fence has been cut three times. In addition, he noted, dozens of cattle are stolen on average per year, at a cost of at least 3,000 shekels and more per head of cattle.
“It is impossible to maintain dozens of miles of fences spread over extensive grasslands,” Mordechai said. “The damage is great, and beyond the monetary loss, the work that needs to be done to reconstruct the fence takes a long time. The absence of a fence allows the cattle to move outside the limit and makes for even more thefts.”
Mordechai added that “Border Police have a total of three to four patrols in the northern region of Israel. These measures are extremely poor in light of the serious thefts that occur every day and hurt our living. We cannot work the land during the day and be guards at night.”
He called on the State of Israel to find a long term solution that would also be accepted by the Arab shepherds, who feel hurt and angry and take it out on the Jewish residents of the area.
“The State must understand that we are being used as a punching bag,” he said. “Insurance companies are unwilling to insure us anymore because of the repeated damage! Farming and working with cattle is Zionism for its own sake and we guard the State’s territory. If we won’t be here strangers will invade the region. If the State wants us to continue to be here, it must act accordingly.”
Leil Elisha, who is a Green Police patrolman in the area, told Arutz Sheva that the demolition order for the illegal barn was issued several weeks ago, since the barn was established on a military firing zone. He added that the demolition order fueled the already sensitive situation in the region and that resulted in the sabotage of the fences.
“When the agreement on the firing zone was signed, Gal’ed and Givat Nili gave up many lands which belonged to them,” he said. “The Arab shepherds still graze in the firing zone without permission on the grounds that these areas have belonged to their families for generations.”
Elisha noted that the Arabs had sent warnings prior to the fence being sabotaged that “there is going to be a mess,” but added that unfortunately, the existing means are not adequate for the police to defend the Jewish farmers.