Israel admits it is still planting landmines


An annual report by Landmine Monitor lists Israel along with Syria, Burma and Libya as one of the few countries in the world that laid new minefields in 2011.

Israeli defence officials acknowledged that Israel had indeed maintained minefields this year on its border with Syria. Israel is not a signatory of the Ottawa Treaty, which bans the use of landmines.

However, they added that Defence Ministry had set up a new civil authority earlier this year to remove old minefields in other parts of the country.

IDF officers have previously confirmed that, since a state of war officially still exists between Israel and Syria, the army continues to maintain minefields along the Syrian border and around strategic installations on the Golan Heights. "Naturally, part of the maintenance means renewing minefields," said one officer.

Around 1.5 million mines are buried in areas controlled by Israel. In recent years, IDF engineering units have begun removing mines, mainly in the Jordan Valley, but the army lacks the resources to deal with most of them.

Accidents related to mines are relatively rare. Two years ago, following a heavy snowfall on the Golan, two Israeli children inadvertently triggered a mine and were injured, one of them losing a leg.

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