JERUSALEM, March 15, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --
- International Community Celebrates Success of Campaign Led by 12-year old Landmine Survivor
Last February, when young Daniel Yuval said he wanted to do something to rid his country of landmines, even he did not expect that his call to action would result in a dramatic shift in Israeli landmine policy this year.
Yesterday, the Israeli parliament, in an historic vote of 43 to 0, passed legislation to establish a National Mine Action Authority to implement a systematic national plan to clear nearly one million landmines from Eilat to the Golan within years. Today, mine accident survivors and residents of affected communities celebrate the success of "Mine-Free Israel" - a campaign coordinated by Roots of Peace, together with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Center of Regional Councils, and Council for a Beautiful Israel.
Israelis and Palestinians have lived with the invisible but constant threat of landmines claiming their lives and limbs. Minefields left from past wars have blocked access to nature reserves and agricultural fields.
The unprecedented legislation, which passed a second and third reading today, includes the Government of Israel's commitment to dedicate at least NIS 27 million annually for humanitarian mine action, and it also creates a mechanism to receive donations for mine clearance activities. A delegation from the U.S. Department of State is visiting Israel this week to assess the needs of Israel's nascent mine action program. The United States has provided more than $1.9 billion to help over 80 mine-contaminated countries clear minefields and explosive remnants of war as well as to destroy small arms and light weapons since 1993.
"This is life-saving news for Israel and its neighbors," says Jerry White, an American who helped launch Mine-Free Israel and is a recognized leader in the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Prize for Peace. Like young Daniel, White also lost his leg to a mine explosion some 27 years ago as a tourist hiking in the Golan. "Israel can clear its minefields in less than ten years, following the example of Jordan, which has already cleaned up its border with Israel and is expected to be mine-free by July of this year," White says.
Jordan is a member of the 1997 International Landmine Ban Treaty, along with more than 150 countries. The United States and Israel have not yet joined the Treaty, which requires members to cease all landmine production and use, destroy stockpiles, clear minefields and assist the victims worldwide.
"This landmark legislation paves the way for humanitarian removal of explosive litter preventing the use of agricultural lands and access to religious sites sacred to Christian, Jewish and Muslim people alike. The Holy Land is not 'holy' when there are landmines in the ground." said Heidi Kuhn, Founder and CEO of Roots of Peace. "It took the voice of a young boy to remind the world that once they are removed, fertile grounds become available for planting peace in both Israel and the West Bank."
Roots of Peace an international humanitarian, non-political organization works to unearth dangerous landmines in war-torn countries and empowers the local communities scarred by these inhumane weapons. Working to build sustainable crops on land once too dangerous to traverse is how we transform the scars of conflict into the roots of peace. See http://www.rootsofpeace.org.
SOURCE Roots of Peace