The Israeli Knesset last month approved a bill paving the way for the removal of “non-operational” anti-personnel landmines in Israel through the establishment of a national mine action authority.
The March 14 vote was 43 to 0.
The Minefield Clearance Act, which marks Israel’s first effort to address landmine contamination at the national level, limits demining to areas deemed “not essential to national security” by the authority. The exact number of deployed landmines is not known, but at least 33 square kilometers are believed to be affected, according to the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, a nonprofit publication considered the authoritative source on landmines, cluster munitions, and other explosive remnants of war.
The legislation makes no mention of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, the most comprehensive international agreement pertaining to landmines. Israel is not a party to that pact. Unlike the Mine Ban Treaty, the act does not address the manufacture, trade, stockpiling, or future deployment of landmines.
Israel is party to another key international agreement—the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and its amended Protocol II, which regulates but does not prohibit landmine use. Israel declared a moratorium on the sale, transfer, and export of all anti-personnel mines in 1994 and has renewed the moratorium every three years since then. The size of the country’s landmine stockpile is not known.
The act’s passage took place one year after a mine detonation in the Golan Heights resulted in injuries to two Israeli children. One of them, Daniel Yuval, who was 11 years old at the time, underwent a leg amputation as a result. Yuval’s story and subsequent campaign efforts made headlines across Israel and beyond and are widely credited for the legislation’s ultimate success.