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Israeli army branches out to deter mortar fire

Sunday, March 10, 2013 - 02:14

March 10 - Trees are often used as a screen to block out undesirable views, but in Israel they're about to be planted as a screen against rocket attacks on Israelis living close to the border with the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military first used trees as a line of defence as the modern state of Israel was being established, but say they can be just as effective today. Jim Drury reports.

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Eucalyptus saplings planted recently along the road leading to Nahal Oz, an Israeli kibbutz. Oxygen-producing and good for the environment, they'll attract bees and allow the community to produce honey. But residents also believe they could help to prevent this............. UPSOT: MORTAR BANG Mortar fire from across the Gaza border is an ever-present threat for those living close by, like these commune residents. Two years ago a mortar, fired by militants towards a passing Israeli border patrol force, exploded inside the commune's grounds. No-one was hurt but residents fear future attacks. Kibbutz elders decided to dig out the history books in search of an answer. SOUNDBITE (English) PUBLIC RELATIONS SPOKESPERSON FOR KEREN KAYEMETH LEISRAEL-JEWISH NATIONAL FUND (KKL-JNF), ELISHA MIZRAHI, SAYING: "Some of the old folks who used to live in those kibbutz in a moshavim (farm collective) came with the idea that we can use an old way of dealing with it...the name of security plantation came back." Elisha Mizrahi is a spokesman for the Jewish National Fund, which has joined forces with the Israeli army to create their defence plan. SOUNDBITE (English) PUBLIC RELATIONS SPOKESPERSON FOR KEREN KAYEMETH LEISRAEL-JEWISH NATIONAL FUND (KKL-JNF), ELISHA MIZRAHI, SAYING: "We take trees that can grow fast enough, like eucalyptus trees, plant them between the roads and the areas where threat is coming from." UPSOT: ISRAELI ARMY VEHICLE DRIVING BY Eucalyptus grow rapidly, reaching up to eight metres within a few years. But opinion among residents about their effectiveness, is mixed. SOUNDBITE (Hebrew) RESIDENT OF NAHAL OZ KIBBUTZ, AVIAD HARLEV, SAYING: "The planting is good but only for snipers' fire, it doesn't play a role against rocket fire." SOUNDBITE (Hebrew) RESIDENT OF NAHAL OZ KIBBUTZ, RACHEL BALA, SAYING: "I think that it's a really cool idea. It's good for nature as well as cheap. I don't feel completely safe with it but I think that having it is good." A twelve kilometre line of trees is being planted in an effort to protect 11 different Israeli communities. Defensive forestation was a tactic used when the modern state of Israel was first created. These days, hi-tech defensive measures like the 'Iron Dome' missile system are also favoured, but Fund leaders believe this natural approach has a significant role to play in keeping communities safe.

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Israeli army branches out to deter mortar fire

Sunday, March 10, 2013 - 02:14

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