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Country Reports
ISRAEL, Landmine Monitor Report 2000
LM Report 2000 Full Report   Executive Summary   Key Findings   Key Developments   Translated Country Reports


Key developments since March 1999: In May 2000, Israel withdrew from south Lebanon, where both Israeli forces and armed non-state actors have used mines extensively. In May 1999, Israel extended its export moratorium for three years. In November 1999 the State Comptroller’s Office released an important report on landmines that concluded, among other things, that 350 Israeli antipersonnel minefields were no longer vital to security.

Mine Ban Policy

Israel has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty. In November 1999 Israel’s representative to the UN stated that Israel “reserved the right to use landmines to protect its citizens.”[1] Israeli diplomats cite its geographic circumstances, the constant threat of hostilities, and the necessity to protect its armed forces and citizens as factors underlying Israel’s policy.

Israel was one of twelve observer delegations at the First Meeting of States Parties of the Mine Ban Treaty in Maputo, Mozambique in May 1999. At this event, the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Department of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs further articulated Israel’s view:

The State of Israel whole-heartedly supports the ultimate goal of this Convention.... It is also actively seeking to forge a new reality with its neighbors...that would render the need for such devices, and the pain and suffering they cause, obsolete.... Israel supports a gradual process in which each state will begin doing its part to reduce the indiscriminate use of landmines, toward the eventual goal of a total ban. We believe the best way to achieve this lies along the path we have already set with our neighbors: Working within the framework of regional cooperation. We believe that the first step should be the elimination of the production of APLs [antipersonnel landmines] to be followed by finding appropriate replacements for landmines and then, later on, when security circumstances allow, a total ban on the use of APLs.[2]

Israel abstained on the vote on the December 1999 UN General Assembly resolution supporting the Mine Ban Treaty, as it had on similar resolutions in the past.

Israel attended four of the ban treaty Intersessional Standing Committee of Experts meetings -- on Mine Clearance and Victim Assistance in September 1999, and on Mine Action Technologies and Stockpile Destruction in December 1999, all held in Geneva.

Between March and September 1998, the State Comptroller’s Office conducted an audit of the Israel Defense Forces policies on mine laying, and issued a detailed report in 1999.[3] The report reflects the seriousness with which Israel addresses the landmine issue, a commendable degree of transparency, and a willingness to examine critically a wide range of military institutions and practices related to landmines.

Israel is a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons and its original Protocol II on landmines. Israeli officials said in May 1999, in December 1999 and again in May 2000 that Israel was in the final stages of approval for accession to Amended Protocol II.[4] Israel has already said that Israeli use of mines “remains strictly within the constraints set by the amended Protocol II of the CCW.”[5] Israel attended the First Annual Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II in December 1999 in Geneva, but did not make a statement to the plenary. In a meeting with members of the ICBL at that time, an Israeli official said that Israel had some concerns about the provisions of Article 5, Paragraph 2 (b) of the amended protocol.[6] This provision prohibits the use of non-self-destructing AP mines unless “such weapons are cleared before the area is abandoned, unless the area is turned over to the forces of another State which accepts responsibility for the maintenance of the protections required by this article and the subsequent clearance of those weapons.”

Israel’s full compliance with Protocol II is called into question by the findings of the 1999 audit by the State Comptroller’s Office. The State Comptroller’s report notes that “the protocol has not been inserted into [IDF] orders and has not been published by the IDF in Hebrew.” The report also details inadequate marking and monitoring measures taken by Israel in the Occupied Territories and Golan Heights.[7]

Israel is a member of the Conference on Disarmament and supports the idea of negotiations on a global export ban at that venue.

Production, Transfer, and Stockpiling

Israel has produced and exported AP mines in the past.[8] Since December 1997, Israel has frequently stated that it “does not” produce antipersonnel mines.[9] Israel is the only non-signatory to the Mine Ban Treaty that has declared a halt to AP mine production since the beginning of the Ottawa Process in 1996. It is unknown when production stopped, and it is unclear if a formal moratorium or ban is in place. An Israeli official told the ICBL in December 1999 that Israel does not rule out production of AP mines in the future if the situation requires it.[10]

In 1994, Israel instituted a three-year unilateral moratorium on the export of AP mines. The moratorium was renewed for three years in 1996, and was renewed again for three years in May 1999.[11] The size and composition of Israel’s current AP mine stockpile are not known. One Israeli official has said the current stockpile is adequate for responding to a crisis.[12] Although Israel has said it will need to have alternatives in place before it can give up AP mines, it apparently does not have an active program seeking alternatives.[13]


Israel has employed antipersonnel mines along its borders, near military camps and training areas, and near sensitive areas like water pump stations and electric power facilities. As the peace process evolved in the region, some minefields have been transferred as part of territory returned to Lebanese, Jordanian, and Egyptian control.

Both Israel and non-state actors, notably Hezbollah, have used antipersonnel mines in south Lebanon. When Israel withdrew from the occupied zone in late May 2000, it gave the UN detailed maps delineating the Israeli-planted minefields in south Lebanon.[14] Some reports indicate that the IDF and its ally, the South Lebanon Army, used antipersonnel mines in southern Lebanon in anticipation of the withdrawal. This is supported by a number of mine incidents in areas of southern Lebanon that had not been known to be mine-affected. For example, on 16 January 2000 a mine in the Kfarhouna area in Jezzine Cadaa, a village from which Israeli forces recently withdrew, killed two persons.[15]

The United Nations Mine Action Service conducted an emergency assessment mission to southern Lebanon from 26 May-1 June 2000. It reported that “many of the 80+ positions evacuated by the IDF and the de-facto forces (DDF) are suspected to be contaminated by nuisance minefields and booby traps.... Most minefields and dangerous areas remain unfenced and unmarked.”[16] One report stated that UN peacekeepers estimated that Israel and the SLA left 70,000 antipersonnel mines “in and around their abandoned compounds” in southern Lebanon.[17] A 21 June 2000 news account said that, according to United Nations experts, there are about 130,000 mines and other explosive devices scattered over the area formerly occupied by Israel.[18]

In December 1999 an Israeli official stated that Hezbollah had continued to use mines and improvised explosive devices regularly during the year. He noted that Israel would give consideration to both sides refraining from use of mines, but that the other side refuses.[19]

The Landmine Problem

The U.S. State Department has estimated that there are 260,000 mines in Israel.[20] The mines are mostly along the borders with Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and territories captured in the 1967 war (i.e. West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights). Aside from mines emplaced by the IDF, this figure includes mines laid prior to the establishment of Israel by the British and during subsequent conflicts by Jordan and Syria.[21]

In 1999, the Israeli State Comptroller's Office published an audit of mine use policies and practices. The audit states that there are 350 antipersonnel minefields emplaced by the IDF and other belligerent parties that are no longer “vital to the security of the state.” This includes minefields within the state of Israel proper, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. Additionally, the State Comptroller noted that an unspecified number of minefields in the Jordan Valley and the Arava are “also no longer vital.”[22]

According to an IDF General Staff order titled “Laying and Removal of Mines,” any minefield and any area that is mined or suspected of being mined shall be fenced off and posted with warning signs. The IDF is required to check the fencing and sign posting of the minefields and the areas suspected of being mined at least once a year, in some instances every six months.[23] The State Comptroller’s audit found that some minefields are not properly marked or fenced and are not inspected within the prescribed time. This finding includes minefields in Israel proper, the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and areas controlled by Israel in the Golan Heights. For example:[24]

  • Eight minefields and areas suspected of being mined on and at the foot of the Golan Heights (old Syrian mines) were not fenced off. Six of the above areas are in the Jordan Park area.
  • In fifty-nine of the seventy-six of the minefields examined, no external inspection was conducted within six months after the previous inspection, as required. In thirty-six minefields, no such inspection was performed in the course of the year.
  • The cumulative perimeter of the areas suspected of being mined within the Southern Command region was about 350 kilometers; in view of the limitations in resources and order of battle, the required fencing and sign posting of the areas suspected of being mined was impossible to carry out.
  • Data supplied by the Israel Defense Forces show that between January 1997 and May 1998, nine cases of mine explosions occurred as the result of malfunctions caused by failure to obey or to comply with rules. In two of those cases, humans were injured.

In July 1998, the Israel Defense Forces Department of Field Security considered the issue of unmarked minefields and concluded that “minefields [that] constitute part of an obstacle laid by our forces on the front lines...there is no possibility of marking them on civilian maps. Regarding minefields that were laid by enemy forces...there is no impediment to marking them on the maps. Regarding minefields located in the vicinity of sensitive sites, such as electrical power stations, water pumps and the like, there is no impediment to marking them on the maps.”[25]

Part of the State Comptroller’s report remains classified but the part of the report publicly released included recommendations for operational, doctrinal, and logistical procedural adjustments.[26] These recommendations are in the process of being examined by the Israeli military.

Mine Action

In January 1999, the division of Finances, Equipment, and Property in the Israeli Ministry of Defense stated that it was examining the possibility of IDF evacuating unnecessary minefields, as well as adjacent areas suspected of being mined. To advance the process, the State Comptroller recommended the appointment of an inter-ministerial committee to examine all aspects of the subject, and to guide government policy.[27] There are four companies registered with the government as providers of mine clearance services.

Israel’s demining capabilities are quite significant. Indigenously developed mine clearing equipment includes: AP mine safety shoes; a lightweight in-stride mine extractor for surface munitions clearance; a teleoperation kit to convert a vehicle into a remotely controlled unit; a track-width mine plow; an on-board anti-magnetic mine actuating device; a highly mobile rear-engine four wheeled all terrain vehicle; ground penetrating radar; and, a twin roller bank system coupled to a heavy-tracked tractor.[28]

In addition, Israel’s Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) is in the process of developing: a tree and shrub clearing shredder; a mini-flail; a lightweight flail mounted on a small remote-operated tractor; a self-powered heavy flail; a standard deep-rooter; and a soil combine-sifter-crusher. [29]

In 1997, Israel and Jordan carried out a combined project of clearing minefields along their shared border. Israel is currently involved in a multilateral humanitarian mine clearance project with Jordan and has offered the Jordanian engineering corps additional mine clearing equipment and safety gear.[30] In addition, Israel has offered to fund a mine victims rehabilitation program and is willing to provide technical training assistance for its medical staff.[31] Four Jordanian landmine victims, three adults and a child, have undergone extensive treatment and rehabilitation at Israel’s Beit Levenstein and Schneider’s Children’s Hospital.[32]

Since 1996, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been engaged in mine clearance and mine awareness operations in Angola. An Israeli NGO, Aid Without Borders, conducts mine awareness education programs in Angola under the auspices of UNICEF. Aid Without Borders has also been active in Kosovo where it taught mine awareness to children in conjunction with the British Mines Advisory Group.[33]

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also operates a joint landmine assistance program with Canada in Guatemala. Canada’s sphere of responsibility in the program includes both physical and psychological rehabilitation, while Israel is involved with the economic rehabilitation of mine victims. This economic rehabilitation consists of encouraging and teaching landmine survivors to establish and successfully run independent micro-enterprises or other small businesses.[34]

Weapons and explosives are part of daily life in Israel. During “special terrorism awareness” sessions, Israeli school children are shown detailed pictorial images of various landmines and are taught to avoid them.[35] In addition, all military graduates in Israel possess considerable awareness of mines as a result of their army service.

Landmine Casualties

Civilians have fallen casualty to landmines in the Golan Heights, West Bank, and other areas (see separate reports on Golan and Palestine). A detailed statistical record of landmine casualties is currently unavailable, as victims of landmines are treated under the general category of “Victims of Hostile Activities.” Therefore, there is no specific statistical category reserved for landmine casualties. However, the 1999 State Comptroller’s Report noted that “between January 1997 and May 1998, nine cases of mine explosions occurred as the result of malfunctions caused by failure to obey or to comply with rules.... [Consequently,] there was one death and seven injuries.”[36]

Although official detailed statistics on mine incidents are sparse, the Israeli media occasionally reports on mine casualties suffered by soldiers. For example, on 5 June 2000, the media reported that an Israeli soldier was severely wounded while clearing minefields along the Israeli-Lebanese border.[37]

Survivor Assistance[38]

In April 1999, Israel hosted an international workshop on the rehabilitation of landmine victims.[39] Israel’s comprehensive Bituach Leumi, or National Insurance Service, completely covers the cost of treatment for victims of landmines. Victims of landmines in Israel (whether citizens, tourists, students, or anyone who has entered the country legally[40]) are included in the Health Services clause of “Victims of Hostile Activities,” and as such, are provided extensive treatment. This treatment includes an initial evaluation, subsequent operations, and extensive orthopedic rehabilitation. Patients are provided with psychological therapy and counseling, as well as occupational, speech, and physical therapy. They also receive an appropriate prosthetic device, or devices.

Israel also provides extensive vocational training and outpatient treatment. The Ministry of Work and Social Welfare, the National Health Insurance Institute, and the General Sick Fund (Israel’s largest HMO) jointly run vocational schools for landmine victims. After an initial assessment by the vocational school, the patient selects a course of interest, and upon successful completion of a final exam, receives a professional degree. Israel’s comprehensive rehabilitative vocational facilities enable the landmine victim to return to the workplace, providing him or her with a sense of success and inclusion in society.

Additional benefits to landmine survivors include a monthly pension, and the ability to purchase a car without tax. If the patient is unable or does not wish to drive, a transportation stipend can be provided. Israel also has parking spaces reserved for handicapped people, and most new buildings have elevators and ramps for handicapped and disabled people.

Medical centers that are involved in the treatment of civilian landmine victims and survivors are: Beit Levenstein in Rannana, Tel Hashomer in Tel Aviv-Yaffo, Tel Aviv University Medical Center, and Schneider’s Children’s Hospital in Petach Tikvah.

Soldiers wounded by landmines are provided with the same comprehensive rehabilitative treatment as civilians, with two exceptions: injured soldiers receive treatment from army medical teams instead of civilian doctors, and receive a higher monthly pension. [41]


[1] Statement of Nimrod Barkran, Representative of Israel at UN General Assembly First Committee, UN Press Release GA/DIS/3162, 8 November 1999.
[2] Statement by Mr. Giora Becher, Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Department of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the FMSP of the Mine Ban Treaty, Maputo, Mozambique, May 1999. Hereafter cited as “Becher Statement at FMSP, May 1999.”
[3] State Comptroller's Report No. 50 A, for the Year 1999, “Mine Laying in the Israel Defense Forces,” (Published in Hebrew and translated unofficially) Israel government printing office, Jerusalem. Hereafter cited as “State Comptroller’s Report, 1999.”
[4] For May 1999: Becher Statement at FMSP. For December 1999: ICBL meeting with members of Israeli delegation to Conference on Amended Protocol II, Geneva, 17 December 1999. For May 2000: Interview with Israeli official, May 2000.
[5] Becher Statement at FMSP, May 1999.
[6] ICBL meeting with members of Israeli delegation to Conference on Amended Protocol II, Geneva, 17 December 1999. Notes taken by Stephen Goose, Human Rights Watch.
[7] State Comptroller’s Report, 1999.
[8] See Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 889 for details.
[9] The first known public announcement was the Statement of the Israel Delegation, Ottawa Forum for Mine Action, December 1997, document 1.12.97/17119. See also Becher Statement at FMSP, May 1999.
[10] ICBL meeting with members of Israeli delegation to Conference on Amended Protocol II, Geneva, 17 December 1999.
[11] Becher Statement at FMSP, May 1999.
[12] ICBL meeting with members of Israeli delegation to Conference on Amended Protocol II, Geneva, 17 December 1999.
[13] Ibid.
[14] The UN Mine Action Service told Landmine Monitor that the IDF handed over four maps and four files with details on areas mined by Israel in south Lebanon. Email from Hemi Morete, UNMAS, to Landmine Monitor/Human Rights Watch, 14 July 2000. See also, “Israel Hands Over Landmine Field Maps to UNIFIL,” Jerusalem Voice of Israel (state-funded radio) in Hebrew, 1300 GMT, 31 May 2000; “UN Experts to Meet Lebanese Army over Landmines in South,” Agence-France Presse, 31 May 2000.
[15] Lebanese daily newspapers on 17, 18, and 19 January 2000: ANNAHAR, Al-Safir, L’orient le Jour, Daily Star.
[16] UNMAS, "The Landmine/UXO Problem in South Lebanon: Preliminary UNMAS Assessment Report," 6 June 2000.
[17] Henry McDonald, “Seeds of Death Litter Lebanon’s Liberated Fields,” The Observer, 18 June 2000.
[18] Agence-France Presse, Sidon, Lebanon, 21 June 2000.
[19] ICBL meeting with members of Israeli delegation to Conference on Amended Protocol II, Geneva, 17 December 1999.
[20] U.S. Department of State, “Hidden Killers,” September 1998, p. A-1.
[21] State Comptroller’s Report, 1999.
[22] Ibid.
[23] Ibid.
[24] All examples Ibid.
[25] Currently, this is only accepted in “principle.” Ibid.
[26] Ibid.
[27] Ibid.
[28] Most of the equipment was evaluated or used by the IDF, U.S. Army during “Desert Storm” and by the Canadian and Swedish armies. Stated by the Israel Delegation, Israeli Capabilities in Demining and Rehabilitation of Victims, Ottawa Forum for Mine Action, December 1997.
[29] Israel Delegation, Israeli Capabilities in Demining and Rehabilitation of Victims, Ottawa Forum for Mine Action, December 1997.
[30] Interviews with Israeli officials, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, May and June 2000.
[31] Interview with Israeli government official, June 2000.
[32]Interview with Professor Chaim Ring, Deputy Director of Lowenstein Rehabilitation Center, Beit Levenstein Hospital, Rannana, 24 May 2000.
[33] Interview with Erez T. Yanuv, Founder of Aid Without Borders, Jerusalem, 1 June 2000.
[34] Interview with Benny Abileah, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jerusalem, 1 June 2000.
[35]Interview with Professor Chaim Ring, Deputy Director of Lowenstein Rehabilitation Center, Beit Levenstein Hospital, Rannana, 24 May 2000.
[36] State Comptroller's Report, 1999.
[37]David Rudge, “Soldier Wounded in Mine-Clearing Accident,” Jerusalem Post, 6 June 2000.
[38] The majority of information for this section is from an interview with Professor Chaim Ring, Deputy Director of Lowenstein Rehabilitation Center, Beit Levenstein Hospital, Rannana, 24 May 2000.
[39] Becher Statement at FMSP, May 1999.
[40] Iituach Leumi website, http://www.btl.gov.il/English/eng_index.asp.
[41] “Department of Rehabilitation,” State of Israel Ministry of Defense official publication, Tel Aviv, April 1996.