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Country Reports
Israel, Landmine Monitor Report 2004


Key developments since May 2003: Officials confirmed that antipersonnel mine production lines have been dismantled. A national effort to mark, map, and fence existing minefields inside Israel continues. In September 2003, the IDF reportedly refused to clear a minefield in Jerusalem, where an Arab school was to be built. In January 2004, Israel provided maps of minefields it laid in south Lebanon to Hezbollah.

Key developments since 1999: Israel has ceased the production of antipersonnel mines and has renewed an export moratorium until 2005. The last confirmed use of antipersonnel mines by the IDF was in 2000 in south Lebanon. Israel first reported destroying obsolete antipersonnel mines in 2002. Israel joined CCW Amended Protocol II in October 2000 and has submitted three national annual reports.

Mine Ban Policy

Israel has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty. Israel has said that it “supports a gradual regional process towards the eventual goal of a total ban on landmines, based on peaceful relations and regional cooperation.”[1] It has not made any new statements regarding its position on the Mine Ban Treaty since October 2002, when Foreign Ministry officials stated that while Israel supports the humanitarian objectives of the treaty, it is not in a position to separate its landmine policy from other regional security considerations.[2] Israel stated in late 2003 that considering the current threats to its security, unilateral disarmament and arms limitations “cannot contribute to peace, security and stability, and may actually lead to escalation of the conflict.”[3]

Israel has abstained from voting on every annual pro-ban UN General Assembly resolution since 1996, including UNGA Resolution 58/53 on 8 December 2003. Israel participated in the Ottawa Process as an observer and has since attended two annual meetings of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty (in 2000 and 2002), as well as a few meetings of the intersessional Standing Committees, but none in 2004.

Israel ratified Amended Protocol II of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) in October 2000. Israel submitted its initial national report as required under Article 13 in November 2001, marking the first time that Israel made detailed mine-related information available to the international community. Israel submitted its third Article 13 report on 18 November 2003. Israel attended the Fifth Annual Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II in November 2003.

Israel has not enacted any additional domestic legislation to implement the provisions of Amended Protocol II, as it believes existing legislation is adequate, including export controls and Israel Defense Force (IDF) regulations.[4] These regulations are “reviewed regularly” and the “IDF Engineering Corps maintains a set of detailed regulations and instructions regarding the management of archive, recording minefields, and mined areas.”[5] The Engineering Corps also conducts routine technical inspections to ensure Israel’s compliance with the Protocol.[6] The obligations and provisions of CCW and Amended Protocol II are taught in IDF schools.


In November 2003, Israel stated, “There were no new minefields put in-place this year.” A similar declaration was made in November 2002. It also repeated, “In the past year...there were large scale activities done by terrorist groups to smuggle and accumulate mines, booby traps, and other devices as well as improvised explosive devices, part of which the IDF succeeded in seizing, confiscating and destroying.”[7] The last confirmed use of antipersonnel mines by Israel was during its withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000.[8]

According to the commander of the UN peacekeeping force in South Lebanon, Israel provided maps detailing the locations of approximately 400,000 landmines in June 2000, December 2001, and April 2002.[9] According to the Lebanese military, these maps report a total of 1,869 minefields along the border, containing an estimated 246,012 antipersonnel mines and 10,666 antivehicle mines.[10] It was reported that Israel also provided maps of minefields laid by the IDF and its South Lebanese Army ally to Hezbollah in late January 2004 as part of a prisoner exchange.[11]

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs official told Landmine Monitor in December 2001 that antipersonnel mines are not part of the Israel Defense Force doctrine in the conflict with armed Palestinian groups, and that antipersonnel mines have not been used by the IDF.[12] There were several specific allegations of use of mines by Israel in the Gaza Strip and West Bank in 2000 and 2001; Israel strongly denied the charges.[13] The Israeli media and others occasionally report on “mine” incidents in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. However, reports are not always clear as to whether the devices used are victim-activated or command-detonated, and the reports often use terms interchangeably, citing the use of bombs, landmines, booby-traps and improvised explosive devices by armed Palestinian groups or Israeli forces. The Mine Ban Treaty prohibits not only antipersonnel mines, but also explosive booby-traps and other improvised explosive devices that are victim-activated.

In June 2002, Israeli media reported that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told Knesset members that he “strongly opposes laying mines” as part of the construction of a new fence between Israel and the West Bank.[14]

In 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. The report concluded, among other things, that 350 Israeli antipersonnel minefields were no longer vital to security.[15]

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling

Israel reiterated in February 2003 that it had, “ceased all production and imports of antipersonnel mines in the early 1980s.”[16] In July 2004, Israeli officials disclosed for the first time that antipersonnel mine production lines have been dismantled.[17]

Israel declared a moratorium on the export of antipersonnel mines in 1994, and extended it in both 1996 and May 1999 for three-year periods. In August 2002, Israel again renewed the moratorium, until July 2005.[18] Israeli officials note that they anticipate that regular three-year renewals will to continue into the future.[19] Israel was a significant exporter in the past. Deminers in Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Sudan, and the Falklands/Malvinas Islands have found the Israeli Number 4 blast antipersonnel mine.[20] Kenya declared stockpiling nearly 25,000 antipersonnel mines of Israeli origin in December 2001 and completed destruction of the mines in August 2003.[21]

The size and composition of Israel’s stockpile of antipersonnel mines remains unknown, but includes both hand-emplaced and remotely-delivered mines. Israel stated in late 2003 that it continues to carry out its program to destroy outdated mines.[22] In February 2003, Israel commented for the first time on the scope of this stockpile destruction effort, stating that the military destroyed 12 tons of mines in 2002.[23]

Landmine Problem and Mine Action

Israel is a mine-affected country with mines dating back to World War II still active inside its borders. Since the establishment of Israel, it has used mines along its borders, near military camps and training areas, and near infrastructure including water pump stations and electric power facilities. The Haaretz Daily reported that approximately 33,000 dunams (33 million square meters) of land are mined or suspected of being mined in Israel, the West Bank, and Golan.[24] Syria stated that in early 2003, heavy rain caused the erosion of a minefield on the hillside in the Golan town of Majdal Shams (the village featured on the cover of Landmine Monitor Report 2000). Landmines moved downhill to the back of houses, requiring inhabitants to move to safer accommodation.[25]

Israel maintains that all minefields within its borders are fenced and registered and are updated on a timely basis by the Israeli Mapping Center (IMC). In 2003, the IDF began work to improve the recording measures used for minefields and suspected areas by using Global Positioning System (GPS) devices and other equipment that will enable the IMC to distribute more updated and accurate information regarding the locations of minefields.[26] The 1999 State Comptroller’s audit found that some minefields were not properly marked or fenced and not inspected within the prescribed time, including minefields in Israel proper, the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and areas controlled by Israel in the Golan Heights.[27]

There is no national agency to coordinate demining efforts. The IDF Engineering Corps and commercial Israeli contractors continue to clear mines, bombs, and unexploded ordnance (UXO) on an emergency basis, and on a more frequent basis when circumstances permit. However, the director of one commercial contractor noted in early 2003 that although demining was a priority only a couple of years ago, “these days anti-terror measures are our priority.”[28]

In September 2003, the IDF reportedly refused to clear a minefield in Jerusalem, where an Arab school was to be built. The IDF stated that its policy was not to clear minefields for civilians, due to the risk to soldiers, but a city councilor noted that the IDF had previously cleared minefields for Jewish communities and claimed discrimination.[29]

Private Israeli companies have participated in mine clearance programs in Israel, as well as Croatia and Albania.[30] Operating since 1995, Maavarim Civil Engineering Company provides services in the field of mine and UXO clearance, capacity building and technical advice, with some projects supported by the Israeli Ministry of Defense. Maavarim claims to have cleared over 3 million square meters of land, including agricultural land, physical infrastructure, and rural areas.[31] Maavarim and the Turkish company ARMADA are in the process of planning to clear mines along the borders to release the area for agricultural use.[32]

Mine Risk Education

While there is no special training on the dangers of landmines in schools, there are various terrorism awareness programs promoting alertness with regard to explosive objects.[33] In addition, Israel requires organizers of field trips (such as those conducted by schools, youth movements, work places and private citizens) to coordinate their routes with the relevant IDF command to receive briefings regarding the location of actual and suspected minefields in the area.[34] Israel’s orientation program for new immigrants includes mine and UXO risk education. Updated information regarding the exact locations of minefields and suspected areas is provided to local municipalities and other interested establishments.[35]

Israel has also been involved in mine risk education internationally. In 2002, it provided funds for four Israeli volunteers to work on a mine risk education project run by UNICEF in Angola.[36] In the past, Israel has supported an Aid Without Borders mine risk education project in Kosovo and, in cooperation with the Canadian government, a survivor training and rehabilitation program in Guatemala.[37]

Landmine Casualties and Survivor Assistance

No record of civilian landmine casualties is available because casualties are listed under the umbrella category of “Victims of Hostile Activities.” It is often difficult to determine from the occasional media reports of “mine” incidents if they actually involved antipersonnel mines or other explosive devices.

Israel reports that it “has vast experience in the field of rehabilitation, with over 2,000 traumatic amputations within the IDF and several dozens of civilian victims to landmines, UXOs, improvised explosives and other devices....”[38] Most of these incidents occurred during the wars of 1967, 1973 and 1982. In 2000, an Israeli soldier was seriously injured while clearing landmines along the Israeli-Lebanese border.[39]

The Israeli National Insurance Services (Bituach Leumi) cover the cost of treatment for all Israeli citizens injured by landmines.[40] The main Israeli hospitals and centers offering rehabilitation programs include “Tel-Hashomer” (“Shiba”) and “Loewenstein” in Tel Aviv, and “Rambam” and “Bnei Zion” in Haifa. As of November 2003, Israel had six workshops specializing in prosthetics, ten specializing in orthotics, more than a dozen orthopedic shoemakers, and a number of physiotherapists working in the field of physical rehabilitation.[41]

In recent years, Israeli rehabilitation specialists were sent, under the auspices of the UN and the Israeli Foreign Ministry, to Sri Lanka, Vietnam, El Salvador, Croatia and Slovenia.[42] Israel also has rehabilitation exchange agreements with Armenia, Cyprus, Greece, Turkey and several states of the former Soviet Union.[43] Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs funds an economic reintegration program in Guatemala. The microfinance program seeks to encourage landmine survivors to start their own businesses.[44]

In April 1999, Israel hosted a workshop on the rehabilitation of landmine survivors.[45]

[1] Statement to the UN General Assembly First Committee by Alon Bar, Director of Division of Disarmament, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Meir Itzchaki, First Secretary, Division of Disarmament, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, New York, October 2001.
[2] Explanations of votes by Israeli delegation at UN General Assembly First Committee on 22 October 2002 and 23 October 2002.
[3] Statement by Ambassador Arye Mekel, Deputy Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations, First Committee, General Debate, UN General Assembly, New York, 15 October 2003.
[4] Israel, National Annual Report required by Article 13, Amended Protocol II, CCW, submitted 18 November 2003, p. 8.
[5] Article 13 Report, 18 November 2003, p. 4.
[6] Ibid, p. 7.
[7] Ibid, p. 6.
[8] See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, pp. 934-935.
[9] Nicholas Blandford, “Interview with the commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon Major General Lalit Tewari,” Daily Star (Beirut English language daily newspaper), 6 June 2002.
[10] Presentation by Lt. Col. Kassem Jammoul, Operation Officer, NDO, to a visiting delegation from US Department of State, 6 May 2003.
[11] Interview with members of the Israeli delegation to the Eighth Session of the CCW Group of Government Experts, Geneva, 8 July 2004; Ileil Shahar, “Sharon Stands Behind POW Deal,” Maariv International (internet news source), 25 January 2004.
[12] Interview with Meir Itzchaki, First Secretary, Regional Security and Arms Control Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Geneva, 13 December 2001. This was reiterated in an email dated 30 June 2001.
[13] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, pp. 675-676, and Landmine Monitor Report 2001, pp. 1,011-1,012.
[14] Gideon Alon, “PM Sharon opposes mines near security fence,” Haaretz Daily (Tel Aviv), 25 June 2002.
[15] 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.”
[16] Email from Meir Itzchaki, Regional Security and Arms Control Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 10 February 2003. In the past, Israel produced low metal content blast antipersonnel mines, bounding fragmentation mines, and Claymore-type directional fragmentation munitions, designated M12A1, No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, and No. 6.
[17] Interview with members of the Israeli delegation to the Eighth Session of the CCW Group of Government Experts, Geneva, 8 July 2004.
[18] Article 13 Report, 18 November 2003, p. 11.
[19] Interview with members of the Israeli delegation to the Eighth Session of the CCW Group of Government Experts, Geneva, 8 July 2004.
[20] Jane’s Mines and Mine Clearance 2000-2001, p. 147, 151, 472.
[21] See Kenya’s Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Transparency Measures reports of December 2001 and March 2004, available at http://disarmament2.un.org/MineBan.nsf, accessed 12 October 2004.
[22] Article 13 Report, 18 November 2003, p. 6.
[23] Email from Meir Itzchaki, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 10 February 2003.
[24] Jonathan Lis, “IDF refuses to clear landmines from land for Arab school,” Haaretz Daily, 8 September 2003.
[25] “35th Annual Report to the UN Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and other Arabs of the Occupied Territories,” 20 June 2003.
[26] Article 13 Report, 18 November 2003, p. 5.
[27] 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.
[28] Interview with Maavarim President Ben Steinberg and staffer Dror Schimmel, Jerusalem, 5 January 2003.
[29] “IDF refuses to clear landmines from land for Arab school,” Haaretz Daily, 8 September 2003.
[30] Article 13 Report, 18 November 2003, p. 10. Four companies are named in the report.
[31] Interview with Maavarim President Ben Steinberg and staffer Dror Schimmel, Jerusalem, 5 January 2003.
[32] Article 13 Report, 18 November 2003, p. 9.
[33] Interview with Meir Itzchaki, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jerusalem, 2 January 2003.
[34] Article 13 Report, 18 November 2003, p. 5.
[35] Ibid, p. 5.
[36] Ibid, p. 9.
[37] Article 13 Report, 8 November 2002, p. 5.
[38] Article 13 Report, 18 November 2003, p. 6.
[39] David Rudge, “Soldier Wounded in Mine-Clearing Accident,” Jerusalem Post, 6 June 2000.
[40] For details see Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 677.
[41] Article 13 Report, 18 November 2003, p. 6.
[42] Article 13 Report, 8 November 2002, p. 7.
[43] Interview with Dr. Ziver, Shiba Medical Centre, 12 January 2003.
[44] Ibid.
[45] Statement by Giora Becher, Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Department of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the First Meeting of States Parties of the Mine Ban Treaty, Maputo, Mozambique, May 1999.