Locusts Invade Negev, Threaten Farmlands

YERUSHALAYIM -

The latest external threat to Israel will not be on the agenda during U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit. The Israelis will handle it themselves and the international community will have nothing to say about it.

That threat — a swarm of locusts that crossed from Egypt into the Negev Tuesday afternoon — was met by planes spraying pesticides over farming areas to prevent damage to crops.

The Agriculture Ministry acted in response to urgings from local politicians and farmers to take prompt action against the insects before serious damage was caused.

The swarm numbered about 2,000 locusts, said Dafna Yurista, a spokeswoman for the Agriculture Ministry.

“I have no doubt that the locusts can be prevented from destroying productive agricultural fields,” Shmulik Rifman, head of Ramat Hanegev Regional Council, said in a statement.

Locusts can have a devastating effect on agriculture by consuming crops when they come in massive swarms or clouds.

Farmers said on Monday they were worried about a potential onslaught.

“The [locusts] could ruin us,” Tzachi Rimon, a farmer, told Israeli reporters

Yurista said the number of locusts was relatively small, but “just because they aren’t many doesn’t mean we are ignoring them.”