Israel’s Answer to Hamas Forest Burnings: Forest Plantings

A firefighting aircraft flies over fields near the Israeli side of the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, near Kibbutz Or Haner, Sunday. (Reuters/Amir Cohen)

Hamas is planning another major riot this Friday. A major demonstration at the border fence is planned for Friday at 5:00 p.m., with Hamas calling for tens of thousands to protest the “Naksa,” the day marking Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six Day War. Tuesday was actually the official anniversary of that event, but Hamas decided to postpone the major riot it is planning until Friday. The Palestinian Authority’s representative in Iran threatened Tuesday that Hamas would fire “hundreds of rockets” at Israel during the riot.

That event will no doubt be accompanied by more “terror kites,” in which Gaza terrorists attach flammable material to kites they fly into Israel in order to burn farms and forests. Though limited in scope and reach, the program has proven to be relatively successful, with thousands of dunams of crops and forest growth burned by Hamas terrorists.

The IDF is still searching for a way to eliminate the problem, but as a civilian response, the Jewish National Fund is organizing a new campaign – planting new trees to replace the ones burned by Hamas. As Hamas holds its riot Friday, the JNF will begin planting the trees, inviting anyone who wants to express solidarity with residents of the south to come and plant trees.

The week-long (except for Shabbos) effort is being organized by Kfar Aza farmer Ofir Libstein, with the JNF donating thousands of saplings to be planted in place of the trees destroyed in recent forest fires in the Be’eri Forest and other forests in the area. The JNF said in a statement that it has been intimately involved in dealing with the terror attacks since they started in March, with JNF firefighters on hand 24 hours a day to help put out blazes as they begin, thus saving as much growth as possible.

“The damage to JNF forests and agricultural areas caused by Hamas is unprecedented,” said JNF chairman Daniel Atar, who last week said that the organization would sue the terror group for damages in international courts. “We will not surrender to Hamas, and we will make them pay not only for what they have done to Israeli civilians, but to nature and the environment as well. With this planting campaign we send a clear message to the terrorists – we live here, we are united, and we are stronger than ever.”