KKL-JNF and Desert Agriculture 758x530.
(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
Three Arabs were arrested over the weekend for allegedly stealing hundreds of kilograms of produce in the South to sell on the black market, as police reported a recent uptick in agricultural crimes throughout the country.
According to police, the suspects – both West Bank residents with permits to work at a moshav in Kochav Michael near Ashkelon – stole more than 200 kg. of lemons and 100 kg. of olives, which they attempted to sell.
While details of the investigation remain unclear, police said all three suspects were arrested and questioned after a stockpile of the produce was found in a vehicle during a routine inspection at the Meitar Crossing, south of Hebron.
An indictment is scheduled to be filed this week. If convicted, the suspects will lose their work permits.
Earlier this month, Border Police arrested 67 Palestinians, including 40 minors, for attempting to steal nearly 24 tons of grapes and seven tons of tomatoes from a moshav in Shekef, in South-Central Israel.
Last month, police arrested six Arabs from Jericho suspected of stealing more than 200 livestock, including lambs and sheep, as well as agricultural equipment from northern Israel farms.
Additionally, three Arab suspects were arrested in September for stealing more than 250 kg. of grapes from a vineyard near Yatir, on the southern slopes of Mount Hebron.
The spike in agricultural crimes follows an August report from the National Police’s Agricultural Crimes Unit claimed that such thefts were down 18% in the first half of 2017, compared to the same period last year.
“The Israel Police and the Border Police will continue to fight against agricultural crime in all its forms, with the aim of arresting and prosecuting offenders, preventing and thwarting agricultural crimes, and ensuring the safety and integrity of farmers’ property in Israel,” police said at the time.
Still, Zionist Union MK Eytan Broshi, chairman of the Knesset’s Agricultural Lobby, said “agricultural terrorism” – primarily arson – continues to plague many farmers across the nation.
“We must define agricultural crime as terrorism that harms the security of rural areas, and the entire country,” he said.