Agriculture Ministry workers began installing shelters on Wednesday on farmland in the vicinity of the Gazan border, the ministry announced.
The installations were able to begin due to an additional budget that the ministry received from the government for protecting farmers in the South, the ministry said. The ministry has expedited orders on 120 shelters, which will be placed in areas with high concentrations of workers, such as open areas, fields, greenhouses, packing houses and sorting facilities.
“In order to maintain the settlement of communities in the Gaza perimeter, which strengthen the country’s border, today we began installing shelters for farmers in order to enable them to continue their daily work and prevent economic losses without risking their lives and those of their workers,” said Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir.
Throughout Operation Protective Edge, farmers and workers have voiced complaints about the lack of shelters available to them on their fields.
Many workers abandoned the farms entirely, particularly after a Gazan mortar shell killed Thai worker Narakorn Kittiyangkul on July 23.
Yaron Solomon, head of the Settlement Department and coordinator of the economic, finance and agriculture committee of the Israel Farmers Union, praised the Agriculture Ministry for beginning the shelter installations.
While saying that “it’s about time” that this occurred, Solomon stressed that he “would not say it’s too little, too late.”
“I think that this time, [to] the Agriculture Ministry and all the other people dealing with this – kol hakavod [‘bravo’].” Solomon told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday evening.
Solomon expressed hopes that the workers who have fled would now feel more confident to return and that they would enjoy “peace and quiet” while performing their jobs.
“It would have been better if we didn’t have to bring these shelters, but look what’s happening to us,” he said.
“Instead of once and for all dealing with Hamas, slowly, slowly, the whole of the country is in shelters.”
As far as the new agricultural shelters are concerned, however, Solomon said he was pleased to see the ministry supporting the farmers.
“It makes my heart bigger because of the fact that the government authorities really care about the farmers and the workers in open fields,” he said.