"Despite the apparent agreements with the Palestinians regarding the Qassam rocket fire, the attacks emanating from Gaza with the use if firearms continue unabated," Eshkol Regional Council head Haim Yalin told Ynet following Wednesday morning's sniper attack on Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha.
During the attack, which occurred at around 10 am, Palestinian snipers opened fire at 32 farmers as they were cultivating their fields. One farmer, Yochi Kopler, was lightly injured from a ricochet.
The farmers were forced to leave their agricultural fields and return to the kibbutz, this during the peak of the potato-picking season at the kibbutz and the entire Eshkol region in the Negev.
"As soon as the attack began we lay on the ground, and we ran away when it subsided a bit," recounted the injured farmer.
'IDF working to minimize attacks'
According to him, despite past agreements with the kibbutz, IDF soldiers were nowhere to be found. "The army is violating the agreements according to which soldiers are supposed to protect us while we work in the fields," Kopler said. "We are attacked every time we go to work.
"It is a terrible feeling; sometimes I bring 30 men to the fields with me, and I think to myself that maybe it just isn't worth it, even though it is our livelihood," he added.
Yalin said the farmers have no choice but to continue working despite the risks. "They are frustrated because they cannot reap their harvest. This is the only work they have.
"We are not living in Palmach times," he said, referring to the days prior to the establishment of the IDF in which Jewish communities were forced to protect themselves.
"We have an army, and it must protect the farmers."
The IDF said in a statement that "anytime there is an attack IDF soldiers are either patrolling the border or operating inside Gaza. The army is continuously working to prevent such occurrences and is taking preventive measures to allow the farmers to work and minimize the attacks."
In January a 20-year-old volunteer from Ecuador was killed by a Palestinian sniper from the Gaza Strip as he was working in the fields of Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha.