Agriculture Minister under fire for negligence on camel danger

Knesset prepares to make camel owners responsible for accidents, but Agriculture Minister shows laxness.

Guy Cohen,

Herd of camels
Herd of camels
Yaniv Nadav/Flash90

Wandering livestock caused another accident in Israel's southern desert yesterday (Thursday) as the Knesset prepared to pass a law making camel owners responsible for accidents the camels cause.

A woman was injured in an accident near Be'er Sheva when her car crashed into a cow that had wandered onto Highway 25.

In another safety snafu this week, the Nature and Parts Authority and law enforcement agents caught ten camels that had wandered onto roads in the Ramat Hovav area – but released the animals without vaccinating them and marking them.

The Agriculture Ministry's regulations call for animals captured in such circumstances to be vaccinated and marked as a precondition for returning them to their owners.

The Knesset is set to hold the final votes this week on the Camel Law, which was initiated by MK Betzalel Smotrich (Jewish Home) and the Regavim movement. The law determines that owners of camels will be criminally responsible in case the camels cause an accident or any other kind of damage.

The law will require that camels be marked with a subcutaneous digital chip that will hold the owners' personal information, similar to the chips with which dogs are marked. The law will also stipulate that the sale of camels be accompanied by a formal transfer of ownership that will be recorded in the Ministry of Agriculture's database.

Amichai Yogev of Regavim was angry with the Agriculture Ministry for releasing the ten camels. "There are 3,000 ticking bombs in the form of unmarked camels wandering around the Negev," he stated, and asked: "If the Ministry does not enforce its own regulations regarding ten camels, what will happen with the implementation of the law that will soon pass?"