Israel to clear minefields

Jerusalem, Jan 30: Israel’s defence ministry will launch a massive land mine clearing project along the frontier with Egypt, Jordan and Syria, said an official statement.

The ministry’s Mine Clearance Authority (MCA) has signed a first-of-its-kind contract with a private firm to remove thousands of land mines strewn along the country’s frontier with Egypt, Jordan and Syria over the next decade, Xinhua reported.

According to the statement issued Sunday, the work will begin in March in the Arava Valley, a desert region south of the Dead Sea.

At the initial stage, an area of 0.24 square km, which experts consider to be particularly hazardous to the public, will be cleared, it added.

“We are talking about a very serious and meaningful accomplishment in the greater campaign for the clearing of mines across Israel,” said Ervin Lavi, director of the Mine Clearance Authority (MCA).

An unknown number of Israeli civilians have been hurt by land mines over the years.

The action to deal with the problem was taken after 11-year-old Daniel Yuval lost his right leg while hiking with his family last February.

While appearing before the parliament’s foreign affairs and defense committee, the boy recounted his ordeal, urging lawmakers and other senior government officials, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to change a policy which for decades held that mined frontiers were integral to the state’s security.

A few months later, the parliament overwhelmingly voted in favour of the “Mine Clearance Act”, which established the MCA for removing mines “that are not required for security purposes.”