New Method Tested to Clear Landmine Fields

Anat Berkai

IDF (Zahal) Central Command will examine the option of clearing landmine fields. There are currently about 25,000 anti tank landmines and approximately half a million antipersonnel mines in the Jordan Valley

Date: 02/08/2010, 4:08 PM     Author: Dan Tamir

In the coming weeks, IDF (Zahal)’s Central Command will test a new method for clearing fields of landmines through the use of flammable materials, as opposed to explosives. For the first time in IDF (Zahal) history, the engineering forces will test a special material that will burn away the explosive powder of the landmine and enable the army to declare certain areas free of landmines in an easier way that does not endanger the soldiers’ lives. If the experiment is deemed successful, the authorities will look into using this new method of clearing landmine fields in more complex areas that are closer to civilian populations.

The baptismal site of Qasr Al-Yahud in the Jordan Valley is an example of a more complicated area in which to detonate landmines, as there are holy structures at the site and it is in close proximity to the Jordanian border. “The burning powder will allow us to get rid of landmines and clear the ground, all without needing an explosion. Many countries in the world already employ this technique,” said an officer in the Central Command. “If the test goes well, the idea is to begin using the flammable powder to clear the landmine fields starting in Qasr Al-Yahud, and then move on to other locations in the valley.”

According to IDF (Zahal) Central Command, the valley has over 25,000 anti-tank landmines and about a half million antipersonnel landmines. Every year approximately 10,000 landmines are cleared, many of which were originally placed to prevent enemy tanks from advancing towards Israel. The Central Command noted that within the next few years all of the antitank landmines in the valley will be removed, while new alternatives will be examined for removing the antipersonnel landmines. “The landmines constitute a danger for hikers and a security risk as one can steal the landmines and use their explosive powder for terrorism purposes,” the officer concluded.