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Country Reports
ISRAEL, Landmine Monitor Report 1999


Mine Ban Policy

Israel has not signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. At the treaty signing conference in Ottawa, Israel’s Ambassador David Sultan, attending as an observer, stated: “Due to our unique situation in the Middle East involving an ongoing threat of hostilities as well as terrorist threats...we are still obliged to maintain antipersonnel landmines as necessary for self-defense.... Israel, regrettably is unable to sign the treaty until effective alternative measures are available to ensure the protection of civilians threatened on a daily basis by terrorists and to ensure the protection of Israeli forces operating in areas of armed conflict.”[1] Prior to the Mine Ban Treaty signing at Ottawa, the Israeli Foreign Minister stated his support for the treaty, but said that “we have difficulty implementing the initiative because of our own problems along our borders.”[2]

Israel participated as an observer in the treaty preparatory meetings throughout 1997, but did not attend the Oslo treaty negotiations. It did not endorse the pro-treaty Brussels Declaration in June 1997. Moreover, Israel was one of just ten countries which abstained from voting on the 1996 UN General Assembly Resolution urging states to pursue vigorously an international agreement banning antipersonnel mines; one of eighteen which abstained from voting on the 1997 UNGA Resolution inviting all states to sign the Mine Ban Treaty; and one of nineteen countries which abstained from voting on the 1998 UNGA resolution welcoming new signatories to the treaty and urging its full implementation.

Israel is a party to the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and the Protocol II on landmines, but has not yet ratified the amended Protocol II (1996). Israel states that its use of antipersonnel landmines for self-defense purposes is in accordance with the requirements of the CCW.[3] It is a member of the Conference on Disarmament, but has not been a noted supporter of efforts to negotiate a mine transfer ban in that forum.

Production, Transfer and Stockpiling

During the Mine Ban Treaty signing conference in December 1997, Israel stated that it “does not produce APLs [antipersonnel landmines].”[4] At a UN General Assembly meeting on landmines on 20 October 1998, the Israeli representative said that Israel had ceased the production of antipersonnel landmines.[5] It is not clear when Israel stopped production, and whether it now has a formal ban or moratorium in place. Earlier, Israel had instituted a two year moratorium on the export of antipersonnel landmines in 1994; in 1996, it was renewed for three years. Israel said in December 1997 that it was considering extending the moratorium indefinitely, but that has not occurred.[6]

Israel had in the past been a significant antipersonnel landmine producer and exporter. Israel is known to have produced the M12A1, No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, and No. 6 ( a copy of the U.S. Claymore) antipersonnel mines.[7] Israel has produced and exported antipersonnel mines since at least the 1970s, when it provided some to South Africa.[8] Manufacturers have included Israel Military Industries (IMI), based in Ramat Hasharon, and Tel Aviv-based Explosive Industries Ltd. (EIL). Nations listed in the trade press as acquiring IMI mines include Argentina, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nigeria and Zaire.[9] EIL’s No. 4 plastic antipersonnel mine was found by British deminers in the Falklands/Malvinas.[10] Israel has also imported landmines. It has imported no antipersonnel landmines from the U.S., but has imported over 1.9 million antitank mines.[11]

Israel is believed to possess a substantial inventory of antipersonnel mines. Details on the size and composition are not available.


Israel has used mines extensively in combat, and for border protection. Israel’s borders with Jordan and Syria are mined, as are the territories occupied in the 1967 war. In addition, both Israeli forces and non-state actors, notably Hezbollah, are using mines in the Israeli-occupied zone in south Lebanon. Most recently, in February 1999, Lebanon accused Israel of laying landmines along a fence in the village of Arnoun.[12] The Israel/Lebanon Monitoring Group is examining the matter.

Mine Action

There are an estimated 260,000 mines in Israel, mostly along the borders, and the occupied territories. Israel and Jordan in 1997 carried out a combined project of clearing minefields along their border. It is unclear if any systematic mine clearance is now underway in Israel or whether Israel has undertaken any mine awareness programs directed at civilians.

Internationally, Israel contributed $98,000 to the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Clearance.[13] Israel has increasingly become involved in marketing its mine clearance products. Israel has considerable expertise in demining and has offered its assistance to mine-affected countries in the realm of mine surveys, mine awareness activities, and transfer of mine clearance equipment.[14] It is engaged in mine clearance and mine awareness operations in Angola.[15]

Landmine Casualties/Survivor Assistance

Civilians have fallen casualty to uncleared landmines in the Golan Heights, West Bank and other areas.[16] (See special report on Palestine). Israel maintains rehabilitation programs for its disabled veterans and their families, including medical services, psychological counseling, education, and vocational rehabilitation.[17] No information was available regarding similar programs for civilian victims.


[1]Ambassador David Sultan’s Address to the Plenary Session of the Landmine Conference, Ottawa, Canada, 4 December 1997.

[2] “Israel to Attend Landmine Conference in Ottawa,” Reuters, 11 November 1997.

[3] Statement by H.E. Mr. Eytan Bentsur, Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before the Conference on Disarmament, Geneva, 4 September 1997.

[4] Statement of the Israel Delegation, Ottawa Forum for Mine Action, December 1997, document 1.12.97/17119.

[5] United Nations General Assembly Press Release GA/DIS/3115, 20 October 1998.

[6] Ambassador David Sultan’s Address to the Plenary Session of the Landmine Conference, Ottawa, Canada, 4 December 1997.

[7] U.S. Department of Defense Mine Facts database.

[8] James Adams, The Unnatural Alliance: Israel and South Africa (London: Quartet, 1984), p. 93.

[9] Cited in Human Rights Watch Arms Project/Physicians for Human Rights, Landmines: A Deadly Legacy (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1993), p. 94.

[10] Defense News, January 26, 1987.

[11] U.S. Army Armament, Munitions and Chemical Command data, analyzed by Human Rights Watch Arms Division.

[12] “U.S. Department of State - Press Statement by James B. Foley, Deputy Spokesman,” M2 Presswire, 25 February 1999.

[13] See http://www.un.org/Depts/Landmine/vtf.htm.

[14] Israel Delegation, Israeli Capabilities in Demining and Rehabilitation of Victims, Ottawa Forum for Mine Action, December 1997.

[15] Statement by H.E. Mr. Eytan Bentsur, Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before the Conference on Disarmament, Geneva, 4 September 1997.

[16] Hidden Killers: The Global Landmine Crisis, U.S. Department of State, 1994.

[17] Ambassador David Sultan’s Address to the Plenary Session of the Landmine Conference, 4 December 1997.