INPA ups security to prevent ‘4 Species’ thefts

The heightened presence of supervision and enforcement comes as part of a nationwide effort to curb damage inflicted upon the trees.

Willow fronds 311 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
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 said.
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.
The INPA 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 statement.
“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 in nature.”
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 future.
“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.