Although there hasn’t been an armed conflict in the Jordan Valley for over 50 years, the legacy of the occupation of the area by Jordanian forces remains – in the form of thousands of land mines that were planted throughout the area. In recent days, the IDF said, engineering units have dismantled or exploded no fewer than 446 land mines in the Jordan Valley and Judean Desert. They are among the over 2,000 that have been removed in recent years.
One of the main reasons for the removal of the mines is to protect hikers. The area is a popular one for outdoor activities, and removing the mines will allow the opening of more trails for hikers, enabling access to more natural and archaeological sites. IDF engineers are using the detonations to improve their techniques and destroy mines more efficiently, an IDF spokesperson said.
“Over the past two years we have dismantled 2,036 mines as part of our ‘mine-less Israel’ program,” the spokesperson said. “The biggest challenge is organizing and planning the effort. The list of mines that we had did not necessarily match what we found in the field, so we have had to go slowly. This is a project that helps us to develop as soldiers and officers, and will help develop the region,” the spokesperson added.