Israeli court (illustrative)
Israeli court (illustrative)Flash 90

An Arab in northern Israel has been fined NIS 6,000 for cutting a Gundelia plant, which was declared a protected species in 2005. In addition, the man must stay several hundred meters away from Gundelias for the next two years. Failure to do so could result in jail time for him.

The plant was once plentiful in Israel, but was decimated by urbanization and overuse. Arabs of the Land of Israel have used the plant for food and medicinal purposes, and were responsible for most of the losses. As the plants disappeared, the Knesset finally declared it a protected species in 2005, just in time to save it from extinction.

The Arab was arrested for repeated violations of the law, picking the plant numerous times in 2009, 2010, and 2011, the court said. Prosecutors sought the stiff fine in order to discourage him and others from picking the plant. In his defense, the defendant said that the plant is used in traditional Arab cooking, and that its use was a cultural matter.

The court decided on a fine of NIS 6,000, or 30 days in prison. The defendant was also required to sign a document in which he guaranteed he would not approach the plants. If he does, he is subject to jail time, as well as a fine of NIS 15,000.