Israel faces wave of 'agricultural terror' as Border Police struggles to fight back

In recent years, farmers in Israel have been suffering from a plague of burglaries, arson and 'protection' payments. Almost every night, farmers report raids on their farms that not only cost them thousands of shekel, but also put their lives in danger. Israel's Border Police has implemented new strategies to try to quash the wave of agricultural terror.
Israel's farmers face theft, violence Photo Credit: Channel 2 News

Raising animals within electric fences has long been the norm in farms in Israel. Sheep and cattle are being stolen every night in what seems to be a war that is impossible to win. "Unfortunately, most of the work is keeping guard and being present in the field- more so than working with the calves," said Amir Moran, who is in charge of the cattle on Kibbutz Gilad.

Ten years ago, Smadar Shir, from Kfar Yehoshua, started running her family's farm. Burglars who infiltrated the farm have stolen hundreds of sheep over the last two years and almost caused her to give up everything. 

"There is an electric fence here and a wire fence, and they just managed to cross over and throw lambs over the fences. They stole over 100 lambs," Shir said. "Over the last five years, there were 40 active farms, now only 24 are left." To ensure that she wouldn't lose the entire farm, Shir invested more than NIS 200,000, about $57,000, in security and defensive systems. She realized that in this business, the only person she can trust is herself.

Caught in the act Photo Credit: Channel 2 News

Agricultural crime has become a state-wide plague, as approximately 85 percent of the country is considered countryside. Every night, farmers from all over the country report thefts of produce, damage to equipment and illegal seizures of land. The Israel Border Police, responsible for all agricultural crime in the country, has recently changed its strategy; every night, together with the Israel Police patrols around the settlements and agricultural lands, the Border Police sets up reconnoissance units and ambushes who lie in wait for the thieves to make their move. According to their reports, the new tactics are working: Since the beginning of the year, the number of crimes in rural areas has decreased by 20 percent.

Israel's Border Police conduct nightly patrols Photo Credit: Channel 2 News

According to figures published in the State Comptroller's report this year, however, the chances of a criminal being caught in rural areas are 10 percent lower than in the center of the country (the more urban and populous area) and only 4.5 percent of the cases have been indicted.

The Israeli government, and particularly the defense system, has faced sharp criticism for turning a blind eye on what they adamantly refuse to call nationalistic terrorism. After all, it's all about the economy, stupid.

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