Willow fronds 311.
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Willow, myrtle and date frond thieves beware! The Israel Nature and Parks
Authority (INPA) has been increasing the presence of inspectors at many parks
and nature reserves around the country in order to prevent the thievery of the
Succot “Four Species,” and thatching for tabernacle roofs.
These items in
their stolen form have been deemed “unkosher” by the state’s chief rabbis, the
INPA announced on Monday.
The heightened presence of supervision and
enforcement comes as part of a nationwide effort to curb damage inflicted on an
annual basis upon the trees – mostly date trees, whose fronds are used to cover
Succa huts – and upon shrubs – mostly willow branches, a statement from the INPA
Ignoring warning signs, vandals continuously cut down the branches
“mercilessly,” in a way that harms the shrubs themselves, according to the INPA.
Meanwhile, a considerable portion of the damaged plants can never be
rehabilitated, while others take years to repair themselves.
stressed that already a number of years ago, Israel’s chief rabbis both ruled
that Four Species branches and thatching material taken from nature illegally
was impermissible on the holiday.
“Branches of willow and myrtle and date
trees are natural assets protected by the law, and damaging them is prohibited,”
said Gal Arieli, from the INPA’s division of law enforcement, in a
“The public must understand that following the development and
construction of residences and infrastructure – as well as a decrease in the
quantities of water in streams – there has also been a reduction in the number
of willows and myrtles in nature, and that the date tree is also considered rare
During a mid-September visit to the popular Lifta nature
reserve, an INPA spokesman pointed out to The Jerusalem Post
some of the willow
branches in particular that have faced devastation in recent years, a phenomenon
he said he hoped would be curbed by harsher sentences in the
“Inspectors will be strict with those who choose to disregard the
law, and certainly with those who earn a living from damaging nature through the
picking and sale of protected natural assets – an activity that is considered
theft in every respect,” Arieli said in the statement.