The Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday unanimously approved Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz’s proposal to revive a bill that would prohibit sport hunting in Israel and increase the protection of animals in their ecosystems.

“Wildlife will no longer be abandoned to sporting games,” Peretz said. “Today a significant step toward protecting animals has been taken.”

The Environmental Protection Ministry first began promoting a bill on the subject a few years ago, but the matter came to a stalemate in the Knesset after passing through its first reading there in 2011.

Peretz therefore asked that the ministerial committee apply the law of continuity to bring the bill back to the Knesset for its second and third readings.

Currently, the government allows sport hunting to occur annually from the beginning of September through the end of January for many animals, such as ducks, coots and wild doves, according to the ministry. Partaking in the sport are about 2,400 registered hunters in Israel.

“Hunting for sport is contrary to the basic humane concept in which we are committed to protecting wildlife and prohibiting inhumane acts and sights, as we have seen recently,” Peretz said. “We must promote the bill and see that sport hunting disappears from the world.”

Parallel to advancing the anti-sport hunting bill, Peretz called upon the police to investigate recent violent activities that have taken place against wild animals.

Last Tuesday, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority reported finding four severed heads of deer as well as a head of a porcupine mounted on a fence alongside a main highway in the North.

Peretz has called such crimes “shocking to anyone who sees himself as a moral being” and stressed that he will not accept this phenomenon.

According to the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, sport hunting is “one of the most significant threats to biodiversity in the world,” and the organization welcomed the committee’s decision. Ahead of the Sunday session, SPNI executives had sent an opinion on Saturday to the members of the Ministerial Committee on Legislation, encouraging them to approve the ban’s legislation.

“The shocking violence proves more and more the urgency of promoting the bill, which strengthens the ability of the Nature and Parks Authority to preserve and protect wildlife by strengthening enforcement mechanisms and implementing additional measures to maintain its unique ecosystem in our country,” the SPNI opinion said. “Accordingly, SPNI sees the decision of the Ministerial Committee on Legislation as a first important step in the quick approval of the law, which is necessary to protecting wildlife in Israel.”

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