IDF clears land mines from Arab fields near Bethlehem

Monday, May 13, 2013 |  Israel Today Staff

Once again demonstrating that it harbors no ill will toward the Palestinian Arabs, the Israeli army recently got to work clearing land mines from Arab-owned fields in the vicinity of Bethlehem.

Well, of course the Israeli army should do so, it probably planted those mines in the first place! Except that, no, the IDF didn't do so. The mines were planted by the Jordanian army prior to the Six Day War in 1967.

The Jordanian-planted mines were meant to keep Israel from every again exercising sovereignty over Bethlehem, birthplace of King David and Jesus. And they were apparently planted with little or no thought for the danger posed to local Arab residents.

Thanks to the IDF Engineering Corps, the 13 dunams (3.2 acres) of land will soon be usable by the residents of the Bethlehem suburb of Husan.

Over the years, Husan has grown considerably, and a number of private homes now sit adjacent to the fields where the land mines were found. Four children have been killed and at least five more people wounded after inadvertently entering the fields in previous decades.

Israeli officials said the project is being enthusiastically supported by local Palestinian residents.

"The Palestinian side supports and encourages this project," said Lt. Col. Eyal Zeevi, who heads the Bethlehem Coordination and Liaison Administration. "This project has two goals: First, to eliminate ongoing danger to human life and ensure that all mines have been cleared. Second, to return the land to its rightful owners, for the use of the village as a community."

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