Firefighters extinguish fire near kibbutz Karmiya
Photo: Amir Cohen
The recent Shavuot holiday will not be soon forgotten across kibbutzim in the western Negev, where dozens of acres of wheat went up in flames in the past week, just when it was time to begin the harvest.
The Qassam rockets that have been raining on the area and setting the fields on fire caused substantial damage to the farmers, and the kibbutzim are now making efforts to salvage the remaining crops.
Kibbutz Nir Am has lost some 65 acres in the last week alone, and the local farmers are trying to reap what was left in the fields before the next Qassam lands. Kibbutz Be'eri has also lost about eight acres of wheat, and according to estimates, other kibbutzim and rural communities in the area have lost several dozen acres in the fires.
Burnt down wheat field in Nir Am (Photo: AFP)
Kibbutz Nir Am recently asked the government to help fund the leasing of combines from other communities, in order to expedite the harvest.
According to Haim Yalin from Kibbutz Be'eri, the fires caused more than just financial damage. "It needs to be made clear that the profit on wheat is very small, and that we cultivate it mostly for Zionist purposes.
"We don't want to be dependent on import from other countries, and therefore despite the hard work and the meager profit, we continue to grow wheat here. This is the Zionist principle on which we were raised, and we will continue doing so, as a message to our children that life here goes on."