The Hevel Shalom area, under the jurisdiction of the Eshkol Regional Council—which borders Egypt and Gaza—has remained deserted for years due to landmines planted there decades ago. But, the new amendment made to the Minefield Clearance Act, which went into effect this week, requires the defense establishment to clear all explosive devices from the area.
Gadi Yarkoni, the head of the Eshkol Regional Council praised the decision to transfer the lands to the local farmers, calling the amendment “important.”
"The decision to award the farmers a permanent ownership of the area … is an integral part of land regulations planned for our regional council … which would facilitate the demographic expansion in the region," Yarkoni said.
The move comes in the wake of renewed violence along the southern border after several weeks of relative quiet. On Sunday, Gaza militants used a cluster of balloons to fly a styrofoam airplane carrying an explosive device into southern Israel. The plane landed in a field in Sdot Negev Regional Council, near the Gaza border, and was neutralized by police sappers. The process caused the device to explode, but no damages or injuries were reported.
Two weeks ago, a cluster of approximately 10 balloons with an explosive device attached landed on Moshav Kfar Maimon, also located in the Sdot Negev Regional Council, close to the fence of a kindergarten. The incident also prompted a police response, who arrived at the scene to neutralize the device.