Ministers: We’re Targeting Agricultural Terror

YERUSHALAYIM -
Uri Ariel, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Top government officials gathered to discuss ways to prevent agricultural terror — attacks by Arabs on Israeli farms and herds — in a session that included Agricultural Minister Uri Ariel, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan, Border Guards Director Koby Shabtai, and Northern District State Prosecutor Mirit Stern, among others. The officials decided that the state would significantly increase its efforts to put a halt to the terror imposed by Arabs on Israeli farmers.

Recent efforts have reduced such incidents by 20 percent in recent months, Ariel said, but much more needed to be done. In order to battle the problem, more power would be given to officers in the field to enforce the law against terrorists involved in these crimes. “We have been conducting brainstorming sessions recently to determine the best way to proceed legally,” said Stern. Among the ideas is increasing the capabilities of volunteers to act against terrorists caught in the act of trying to set a fire or otherwise cause damage to an Israeli farmer.

The problem of agricultural terror was highlighted in recent weeks by several high-profile incidents in recent weeks, including a major fire in a packing house in the Galilee town of Yesod Ham’alah that caused damage of NIS 10 million. Another attack on Kibbutz Revivim in the south destroyed millions of shekels’ worth of produce.

The attacks generally take place for two reasons — Arab gangs demanding “protection” money from Jewish farmers, using organized-crime tactics to extort money, and nationalism. The attack on Revivim was seen as an example of the latter, with Bedouins taking revenge on Jews after the state demolished illegal structures in the neighboring illegal village of Bir Hadj.

“We are raising the stakes in fighting agricultural terror,” said Ariel. “Coordination between the various ministries and law-enforcement organizations is necessary. We will fight this problem from all possible angles.”