Anti-land mine bill passes first reading

12-year-old who lost his leg in mine blast last year in Golan Heights serves as inspiration for proposed legislation.

Daniel Yuval  (photo credit: Channel 2)
Daniel Yuval
(photo credit: Channel 2)
“Go vote,” 12-year-old Daniel Yuval told Likud MKs, hours before a landmark bill that would pave the way for the removal of most of Israel’s hundreds of thousands of land mines and unexploded ordinance passed its first reading in the Knesset.
Yuval, who lost his leg to one such mine a year ago this week while playing in the snow in the Golan Heights, served as the inspiration and the namesake for the bill, which would establish a civilian authority charged with clearing the mines.

Yuval sat among the MKs Monday evening as the bill passed its first reading by a vote of 58-0. The bill will now be returned to the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee for hearings, to resolve a number of clauses before the bill is brought up for its second and third readings in committee and then on the house floor.
Seventy-three MKs signed on as co-sponsors to the bill, which international experts in land mine clearance have said would set up a well-tested process for the removal of over 90 percent of the deadly explosives that litter some of Israel’s most popular tourist areas in the Galilee, the Golan Heights and the Arava. The civilian authority would cooperate with the military in removing non-operationally- necessary devices, and be able to receive international funding earmarked for such projects in addition to its government-granted budget.
In a last-minute effort to drum up support for the bill, Yuval, who has become the young spokesman for Mine- Free Israel, met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Likud MKs during the party’s faction meeting on Monday afternoon.
Netanyahu spoke about the bill and told Yuval that “you fill our souls.” He thanked him for working to advance the legislation.
“It’s right, and it’s just for Israel. You have given us a strong spirit,” the prime minister declared.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jerry White, who has led mine clearance campaigns worldwide and who also lost a leg to a land mine in the Golan Heights over two decades ago, told the MKs that Monday was “a great day for the whole country.”
White said the authority could provide Israel with the necessary tools to clear most of its land mines in six years.
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.