(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
Five soldiers were lightly injured Wednesday after the military jeep in which they were travelling drove over a mine in the Jordan valley.
According to an initial IDF investigation, soldiers were repairing a fence surrounding a minefield near the Qasr al-Yahud baptism site when the vehicle drove over an old M15 anti-tank mine that had apparently been covered by sand.
The soldiers were evacuated by helicopter to Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Jerusalem fully conscious and were treated in the trauma room for their injuries.
In parallel to the operational debriefing, Head of the Central Command, Maj.-Gen. Roni Numa, appointed the commander of the engineering brigade Col. Max Nudelman, to investigate the incident.
While there are some 33,000 (or 8,250 acres) of known minefields, there are still some 90 thousand dunams suspected of being mined throughout the country, mainly in open fields in the Golan Heights, Arava and on Israel’s borders.
There are thousands of other mines that were planted by Israel to thwart invading soldiers and tanks during the first decades of the state’s existence. While the IDF is continuing to dismantle mine fields, the defense ministry is also intent on removing the remaining mines so that more territory will be safe for citizens.
The de-mining rate is 1,500-2,000 per year and is dependent on the 27 million shekel yearly budget, which is a separate budget from the budget of the Defense Ministry.
While Israel is a member of the Convention on Conventional Weapons and its Amended Protocol II on landmines, it has not signed the 1997 Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition on the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines.