Israel

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 11 December 2023

Summary

Non-signatory Israel acknowledges the humanitarian concerns associated with cluster munitions, but has not taken any steps to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions as it sees military utility in the weapon. Israel has never attended a meeting of the convention. It abstained from voting on a key United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution promoting the convention in December 2022.

Israel has developed, produced, exported, and acquired cluster munitions, but it has not used them since 2006. The country’s last manufacturer of cluster munitions, IMI Systems, ended its production in 2018 after being acquired by Elbit Systems Ltd. The government of Israel has yet to commit to not produce cluster munitions in the future. Israeli-made or copied cluster munition mortar projectiles were photographed in possession of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in December 2022. Israel possesses stockpiled cluster munitions and also hosts United States (US) stocks of cluster munitions.

 

Policy

The State of Israel has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.  

Israel has not taken any steps to join the convention as it sees military utility in cluster munitions. Israel rarely comments on the convention, but criticized it in 2011 for being too “expansive” and for lacking the support of “relevant states.”[1]

Israel did not participate in the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[2] The convention, adopted in Dublin in May 2008, came into being less than two years after Israel extensively used cluster munitions in Lebanon in 2006.  

Israel has never participated in a meeting of the convention, even as an observer. Israel was invited to, but did not attend, the convention’s Tenth Meeting of States Parties held in Geneva in August–September 2022.

Israel abstained from voting on a key UNGA resolution in December 2022 that urged states outside the convention to “join as soon as possible.”[3] It has abstained from voting on the annual UNGA resolution promoting the convention since it was first introduced in 2015.

Israel has voted in favor of UNGA resolutions condemning the use of cluster munitions in Syria.[4]

Israel is not party to the Mine Ban Treaty.

Israel is a State Party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and opposed any CCW discussion about regulating cluster munitions until 2008.[5] It has expressed regret that states failed in 2011 to adopt a draft CCW protocol on cluster munitions, but has not proposed further CCW deliberations on the matter.[6]

 

Use

There is no evidence to indicate that Israel has used cluster munitions since July–August 2006 in southern Lebanon against Hezbollah forces.[7]

The Israeli government’s Winograd Commission of Inquiry into the 2006 conflict in Lebanon found a lack of clarity concerning the acceptable or appropriate use of cluster munitions.[8] In 2006, Israel defended its use of cluster munitions as conforming with “accepted practice” and international humanitarian law.[9]

Israel also used cluster munitions in Lebanon in 1978, and again in 1982 against Syrian forces and non-state armed groups (NSAGs). In 1973, Israel used cluster munitions in Syria against NSAG training camps near Damascus.[10] The Israeli Air Force also used cluster bombs to target Egyptian air defense positions in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.[11]

 

Production and transfer

Israel has developed, acquired, produced, and exported cluster munitions. At the end of 2018, Israel’s last cluster munition manufacturer Israel Military Industries (IMI) was acquired by Elbit Systems Ltd., which changed the name of the company to IMI Systems and announced that it was discontinuing the production of cluster munitions. The government of Israel has not committed to never produce cluster munitions in the future.

In the past, IMI developed, produced, licensed the production, and exported numerous types of cluster munitions including artillery projectiles (105mm, 122mm, 130mm, 152mm, 155mm, 175mm, and 203mm), mortar projectiles (120mm), and rockets (EXTRA, GRADLAR, and LAR-160).[12] Most of the cluster munitions delivered M85 dual-purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) submunitions.[13] More recently, IMI developed the 155mm M999 “Advanced AntiPersonnel Munition” that delivers M99 DPICM submunitions.[14]

Israeli-made or copied M971 120mm cluster munition mortar projectiles were photographed in possession of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in December 2022.[15] Each M971 120mm mortar projectile delivers 24 M87 DPICM submunitions. The M87 submunition has been described as an M85 submunition “that has had its fuze modified to allow it to be fired by mortar projectiles.”[16] Israel originally produced this type of cluster munition, but it is not known how or from whom Ukraine acquired it. Russia is not known to stockpile them.

In the past, Israel concluded licensing agreements for the production or assembly of M85 DPICM submunitions with Germany, India, Romania, Switzerland, Türkiye, the United Kingdom (UK), and the US.[17] Austria, Denmark, Germany, Norway, and the UK have declared stockpiling 155mm artillery projectiles containing M85 submunitions in their Article 7 transparency reports for the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Azerbaijan received a total of 50 EXTRA missiles and LAR-160 rockets from Israel for its Lynx-type launchers in 2008–2009.[18] Georgia received four GRADLAR rocket launchers from Israel in 2007.[19] Chile has reported that it possessed 249 LAR-160 cluster munition rockets.[20] Israel reportedly also exported the LAR-160 rocket system to Venezuela.[21]

Israeli company Elbit Systems Ltd. acquired IMI in November 2018 and renamed it IMI Systems. In January 2019, the vice president of Elbit Systems Ltd., David Vaknin, told media that “As part of the Elbit Systems organization, IMI Systems will not be continuing its prior activities with respect to cluster munitions. All of Elbit Systems activities relating to munitions, including those activities to be continued by IMI Systems, will be conducted in accordance with applicable international conventions or US law.”[22]

In October 2020, a company representative confirmed that “Elbit Systems has discontinued production, sales and deliveries of IMI’s M999 submunition, as well as all other munitions that are prohibited under the Convention on Cluster Munitions.”[23]

Other Israeli companies developed and produced several types of air-dropped cluster munitions in the past. The Rafael Corporation produced ATAP-300, ATAP-500, ATAP-1000 RAM, TAL-1, and TAL-2 cluster bombs, as well as the BARAD Helicopter Submunition Dispenser.[24] In 2011, Venezuela destroyed TAL-1 cluster bombs belonging to its air force.[25] An air-dropped cluster bomb of Israeli origin called ARC-32 was stockpiled by Colombia.[26]

In the past, Israel has imported cluster munitions from the US, including M26 rockets (each with 644 M77 DPICM submunitions) for its M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) launchers and 155mm M483A1 projectiles (each with 88 M42/M46 submunitions). Israel used both in southern Lebanon in 2006. Israel has also received and used US-made and supplied Rockeye cluster bombs (each with 247 submunitions) and CBU-58B cluster bombs (each with 650 submunitions).[27]

In 2017, a government assessment for the upgrade of artillery systems used by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reportedly rejected a German-made artillery system due to the insistence of Germany that Israel must not use it to deliver cluster munitions.[28]

 

Stockpiling

The size and composition of Israel’s current stockpile of cluster munitions is not known, but it is likely to be significant and comprised of the cluster munitions listed in the previous section.[29]

Israeli media reported in September 2018 that the Israeli Air Force was preparing to destroy unspecified types of air-dropped cluster munitions.[30]

Israel hosts a stockpile of US ammunition, which could be transferred to Israel for use in an emergency.[31] A 2008 US Department of State cable, released by Wikileaks in 2011, contained the claim that US-manufactured cluster munitions with a more than 1% tested failure rate, “constitute greater than 60 percent of the overall” holdings of cluster munitions in the “pre-positioned War Reserve Stockpiles in Israel (WRSA/I).”[32] Israeli officials reportedly warned the US that “unless the [US] prohibition [on exporting cluster munitions with a more than 1% tested failure rate] is lifted, Israel will have to revise its defensive doctrine, find a solution to the one-percent dud rate requirement for cluster munitions, and look to another type of weapon system.”[33]



[1] Statement of Israel, Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) Fourth Review Conference, Geneva, 14 November 2011.

[2] For details on Israel’s cluster munition policy and practice through early 2009, see Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 212–215.

[3]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 77/79, 7 December 2022.  

[4]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 75/193, 16 December 2020. Israel voted in favor of similar UNGA resolutions on Syria in 2013–2020.

[5] Letter from Rodica Radian-Gordon, Director, Arms Control Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to HRW, 23 February 2009. In 2011, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the views it expressed in a 2009 letter to the Monitor remained unchanged. Letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 19 June 2011. See also, statement of Israel, CCW Fourth Review Conference, Geneva, 25 November 2011. Notes by Action on Armed Violence (AOAV).

[6] In 2015, Israel again expressed regret and said “the CCW should remain open to the possibility of returning to this important issue in an opportune time in the future.” Statement of Israel, CCW Meeting of the High Contracting Parties, Geneva, 12 November 2015.

[8] Landmine Action, “Cluster Munitions: A survey of legal responses,” 2008, pp. 18–26. According to a US Department of State cable dated 7 May 2008 and made public in September 2011, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) lawyers informed the US that the “Winograd Report recommendations concerning cluster munitions were being implemented.” According to the cable, “Since the summer of 2006, the IDF has improved command and control over cluster munitions, improved the documentation system utilized by firing level units, revised its training program to ensure widespread familiarization of the requirements for using cluster munitions, and placed a greater emphasis on accountability.” See, “Cluster munitions: Israeli’s operational defensive capabilities crisis,” US Department of State cable 08TELAVIV1012 dated 7 May 2008, released by Wikileaks on 30 August 2011.

[9] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel, “Behind the Headlines: Legal and operational aspects of the use of cluster bombs,” 5 September 2006.

[10] During the 1978 and 1982 Lebanon conflicts, the US placed restrictions on the use of its cluster munitions by Israel. In response to Israel’s use of cluster munitions in 1982, and the civilian casualties they caused, the US issued a moratorium on the transfer of cluster munitions to Israel. The moratorium was lifted in 1988. HRW, “Flooding South Lebanon: Israel’s Use of Cluster Munitions in Lebanon in July and August 2006,” February 2008, p. 26.

[11] Abraham Rabinovich, The Yom Kippur War: The Epic Encounter that Transformed the Middle East (New York: Random House, 2004), p. 33.

[12] Information on surface-launched cluster munitions produced and possessed by Israel was taken primarily from IMI’s corporate website (no longer available online) and supplemented with information from Leland S. Ness and Anthony G. Williams, eds., Jane’s Ammunition Handbook 2007–2008 (Surrey: Jane’s Information Group, 2007); and US Defense Intelligence Agency, “Improved Conventional Munitions and Selected Controlled-Fragmentation Munitions (Current and Projected) DST-1160S-020-90,” undated.

[13] In 2004, an IMI representative claimed that the company had produced more than 60 million M85 DPICM submunitions. Mike Hiebel, Alliant TechSystems, and Ilan Glickman, IMI, “Self Destruct Fuze for M864 Projectiles / MLRS Rockets,” presentation at the 48th Annual Fuze Conference, Charlotte, 27–28 April 2004, slide 9.

[14] In October 2018, an IMI official told The New York Times that each M999 shell contains nine M99 submunitions with self-destruct features. John Ismay, “With North Korean Threats Looming, the U.S. Army Pursues Controversial Weapons,” The New York Times, 30 October 2018. The US spent US$2.5 million in 2018 to test the M999 Advanced Anti-Personnel Munition, but no funds have been spent since then. Defense Technical Information Center, US Department of Defense, “Weapons and Munitions Engineering Development: System Development & Demonstration, Program Element Number: 0604802A,” February 2018, pp. 77–82.

[15] War in Ukraine (Rinegati), “In Ukraine, something very similar to Israeli M971 mortar cluster munitions has been spotted.  Unlike standard cluster munitions, the M971 has a built-in self-destruct mechanism for unexploded submunitions, making them much safer for civilians.” 18 December 2022, 12:50 UTC. Tweet; Ukraine Weapons Tracker (UAWeapons), “Who supplied them to Ukraine? That's not clear. A very limited number of countries reported possession of such mortar bombs and we tend to believe what we see was exported from a country which previously purchased these bombs from Israel.” 17 December 2022, 20:18 UTC. Tweet; and “Ukraine received M971 cluster mines (VIDEO),” UATV, 18 December 2022.

[16] It is not clear whether the M87 has a self-destruct feature. See, LinkedIn post by Sean Moorhouse, April 2022. “Israeli mortar bombs being used by Ukrainian Armed Forces. The M-87 Bantam sub-munition is basically an M-85 that has had its fuze modified to allow it to be fired by mortars. It is not clear whether or not both the M-85 and the M-87 have self-destruct features or only the M-85. There is conflicting information out there.”

[18] Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), “Arms Transfers Database,” Recipient report for Azerbaijan for the period 1950–2011, generated on 15 May 2012. According to SIPRI, the Azerbaijani designation for the Lynx multiple rocket launchers are Dolu-1, Leysan, and Shimsek.

[19] Georgia used the launchers with 160mm Mk IV rockets, each containing 104 M85 DPICM submunitions, during the 2008 conflict with Russia. The transfer of the GRADLAR launchers was reported in the United Nations (UN) Register of Conventional Arms. See, Submission of Georgia, UN Register of Conventional Arms, Report for Calendar Year 2007, 7 July 2008. The Georgian Ministry of Defense on 1 September 2008 admitted to using Mk IV rockets against Russian forces on its website. Ministry of Defense of Georgia, “Georgian Ministry of Defence’s Response to the Human Rights Watch Inquire [sic] about the Usage of M85 Bomblets,” undated.

[20] Chile Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Forms B and C, September 2012. See, Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Database.

[21] Israel also exported the EXTRA missile system to Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, but it is not known if submunitions were included in these deals. SIPRI, “Arms Transfers Database,” Recipient report for Israel for the period 1950–2011, generated on 6 June 2012.

[22] Tovah Lazaroff, “Elbit rejects HSBC’s BDS disclaimer stating: ‘We don’t produce cluster bombs’,” Jerusalem Post, 3 January 2019; and PAX, “Elbit Systems confirms cluster munitions exit,” 23 January 2019.

[23] Email to PAX from David Block Temin, Executive Vice President, Chief Compliance Officer, and Senior Counsel, Elbit Systems Ltd., 14 October 2020.

[24] Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey: Jane’s Information Group, 2004), pp. 370–380.

[26] Presentation of the Ministry of National Defense of Colombia, Bogotá, December 2010.

[28] Gideon Levy, “The Cluster-Bomb Nation,” Haaretz, 10 August 2017; and Gill Cohen, “Israeli Army Buying Local Cannons to Sidestep International Ban on Cluster Bombs,” Haaretz, 8 August 2017.

[29] Additionally, Israel has captured and possesses Grad 122mm surface-to-surface rocket launchers, but it is not known if the ammunition for these weapons includes versions with submunition payloads. International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), The Military Balance 2011 (London: Routledge, 2011), p. 313; and Colin King, ed., Jane’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal 2007–2008, CD-edition (Surrey: Jane’s Information Group, January 2008).

[30] According to the report, a tender has been issued for bids from commercial companies to destroy air-dropped cluster munitions, but the “IDF has so far not said that it will be destroying the cluster bombs fired by rockets and artillery shells.” Yaniv Kubovich, “Israel Air Force Plans to Destroy Controversial Cluster Bombs,” Haaretz, 18 September 2018.

[31] “The [US Department of Defense] maintains a [war-reserve stockpile] in Israel. This is a separate stockpile of US-owned munitions and equipment set aside, reserved, or intended for use as war reserve stocks by the US and which may be transferred to the Government of Israel in an emergency, subject to reimbursement.” Legislative proposals contained in a letter from the General Counsel of the US Department of Defense to the chairs of the Congressional Armed Services Committees, 11 March 2004.

[32] According to the cable, until the munitions are transferred from the War Reserve Stockpiles for use by Israel in wartime, “they are considered to be under U.S. title, and U.S. legislation now prevents such a transfer of any cluster munitions with less than a one percent failure rate.” The cable described the inaugural meeting on 1 May 2008 of the “U.S.-Israeli Cluster Munitions Working Group (CMWG).” In this meeting, “Israeli MOD [Ministry of Defense], IDF and MFA [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] officials warned that the current U.S. legislative prohibition on exporting cluster munitions” with more than a 1% tested failure rate “seriously degrades Israel’s operational capabilities to defend itself.” See, “Cluster munitions: Israeli’s operational defensive capabilities crisis,” US Department of State cable 08TELAVIV1012 dated 7 May 2008, released by Wikileaks on 30 August 2011.

[33]Cluster munitions: Israeli’s operational defensive capabilities crisis,” US Department of State cable 08TELAVIV1012 dated 7 May 2008, released by Wikileaks on 30 August 2011.


Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 18 December 2019

Policy

The State of Israel has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty.

In November 2010, Israel reiterated its long-standing position that “regional circumstances prevailing in the Middle East prevent Israel from committing to a total ban on anti-personnel mines. Unfortunately, these regional conditions have not improved in recent years.”[1] Israel has said that “it is unable to disregard its specific military and security needs” and that “it cannot commit to a total ban on anti-personnel mines as they are a legitimate means for defending its borders against possible incursions such as terrorist attacks.”[2]

On 28 March 2011, Israel’s parliament (the Knesset) unanimously adopted the Mine Field Clearance Act. The law establishes a national mine action authority to manage the clearance of Israel’s “non-operational” minefields, but it does not refer to the Mine Ban Treaty or address the use, production, transfer, or stockpiling of antipersonnel mines.[3]

Israel last attended a formal meeting of the Mine Ban Treaty in November–December 2004, when it participated as an observer in the First Review Conference in Nairobi.

In December 2018, Israel abstained from voting on UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 73/61calling for universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty, as it has done in previous years.[4]

Israel is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its Amended Protocol II on landmines. Israel is not party to CCW Protocol V on explosive remnants of war, nor is it party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Production, transfer, and stockpiling

Israel has said it “ceased all production and imports of antipersonnel mines in the early 1980s.”[5] It has dismantled its antipersonnel mine production lines.[6] Israel has in the past been a significant antipersonnel landmine producer and exporter. Israel is known to have produced the M12A1, No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, and No. 6 (a copy of the M18A1 Claymore) antipersonnel mines.[7] Israel has produced and exported antipersonnel mines since at least the 1970s, when it provided some to South Africa.[8] Manufacturers included Israel Military Industries (IMI, based in Ramat Hasharon, and Tel Aviv-based Explosive Industries Ltd. (EIL). Nations listed in the trade press as acquiring IMI mines include Argentina, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nigeria, and Zaire.[9] EIL’s No. 4 plastic antipersonnel mine was found by British deminers in the Falklands/Malvinas.[10]

Israel declared a moratorium on the transfer of all antipersonnel mines in 1994 that was extended for three-year periods in 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2011, and 2014. The 2014 extension was effective until July 2017.[11] According to Israel, the moratorium was declared in recognition of the “grave humanitarian consequences” associated with antipersonnel mines and “the need, in this respect, for self imposed state restraint.”[12]

On 31 December 2007, the Defense Export Control Act entered into force in Israel. The act “criminalizes, inter alia, any violation of the export without an export license or contrary to its provisions. This Act serves as Israel’s statutory framework for the implementation of its obligations under the CCW regarding restrictions and prohibitions on transfer and the Moratorium on any sales of [antipersonnel mines].”[13]

The size and composition of Israel’s stockpile of antipersonnel mines remains unknown, but it includes both hand-emplaced and remotely-delivered mines.[14]

In the summer of 2017, the Israeli Mine Action Authority (INMAA) began a three-year effort to clear minefields in the Golan Heights under Israel’s control.[15]

Use

The NGO Mine-Free Israel estimates that as of 2011, there were approximately one million operational and non-operational mines laid in minefields covering more than 197,000 dunams (197 km2) in Israel and Palestine.[16]

In August 2011, Bamachaneh, the journal of the Israel Defense Force (IDF), reported that the IDF laid antipersonnel mines in the Golan Heights along the border with Syria.[17] The mines were laid after hundreds of civilians entered Israeli territory on 15 May 2011 during the annual Palestinian commemoration of “Nakba Day,” apparently crossing through minefields uninjured.[18]

The ICBL denounced the mine-laying as “shocking” and “disgraceful.”[19] The president of the Mine Ban Treaty’s Tenth Meeting of States Parties issued a statement expressing concern.[20]



[1] Letter from Eyal Propper, Director of Arms Control Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 14 November 2010.

[2] Email from Joshua Zarka, Counselor for Strategic Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 18 April 2007. Israel made a similar statement at the UN First Committee meetings in October 2011, stating “as long as the regional security situation continues to impose a threat on Israel’s safety and sovereignty, the need to protect the Israeli borders – including through the use of AP [antipersonnel] mines – cannot [be] diminished.” See, statement of Israel, UN General Assembly First Committee, New York, 4 October 2011.

[3] Mine Field Clearance Act, 5771-2011, 14 March 2011.

[4] “Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction,” UNGA Resolution 73/61, 5 December 2018.

[5] Email from Meir Itzchaki, Regional Security and Arms Control Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 10 February 2003. In the past, Israel produced low metal content blast antipersonnel mines (No. 4, No. 10), a bounding fragmentation mine (No. 12), and Claymore-type directional fragmentation munitions, designated M18A1.

[6] Interview with members of the Israeli delegation to the Eighth Session of the CCW Group of Government Experts, Geneva, 8 July 2004.

[7] US Department of Defense Mine Facts database.

[8] James Adams, The Unnatural Alliance: Israel and South Africa (London: Quartet, 1984), p. 93.

[9] Cited in Human Rights Watch Arms Project/Physicians for Human Rights, Landmines: A Deadly Legacy (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1993), p. 94.

[10] Defense News, January 26, 1987.

[12] Ibid., 3 July 2013.

[13] Ibid., Form D, November 2007.

[14] Israel reported that in 2005 the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) destroyed 15,510 outdated mines at an ammunition disposal facility. It has not reported any further destruction of mines since that time. CCW Amended Protocol II Article 13 Report, Form C, 22 November 2005.

[15] Anna Ahronheim, “New Golan Mine-Clearing Project to Begin This Summer,” The Jerusalem Post, 16 March 2017.

[16] Rebecca Anna Stoil, “Knesset paves way for landmine clearance effort,” Jerusalem Post, 14 March 2011.

[17] The mines were laid openly and in daylight by Combat Engineering Corps officer cadets; they were placed beyond the border security fence but within the “Alpha Line” that marks the border with Syria. Gil Ronen, “Antipersonnel Mines Laid Along Syria Border ‘for September,’” Arutz Sheva (Israel News), 11 August 2011.

[18] According to IDF Maj. Ariel Ilouz, “Because of age, rain and other natural hazards the antipersonnel mines that were laid along the border were full of mud…They were simply stuck. These mines have been are as [sic] old as 35–36 years and have not been touched.” Or Butbul and Reut Farkash, “Operation Mine,” undated.

[19] The ICBL described Israel’s use of antipersonnel mines to prevent border crossings as “unlawful as it is an unnecessary and disproportionate use of lethal force.” ICBL Press release, “Nobel Peace Prize-winning global campaign strongly condemns Israel’s new use of landmines,” 16 August 2011.

[20] Mine Ban Treaty Implementation Support Unit Press release, “President of Convention Banning Anti-Personnel Mines Expresses Concern About New Use of Mines by Israel,” Geneva, 6 September 2011.


Mine Action

Last updated: 12 November 2018

Treaty status

Mine Ban Treaty

Non-signatory

Mine action management

National mine action management actors

The Israeli National Mine Action Authority (INMAA)

Mine action legislation

2011 law on minefield clearance

Mine action strategic plan

Multi-year clearance plan for 2017–2020

Mine action standards

National standards in accordance with Israeli Defense Force (IDF) procedures, as compatible as possible with International Mine Action Standards (IMAS)

Operators in 2017

Commercial:
4M
Israeli Mine Action Group (IMAG)
Maavarim
Safeland 

Military:
IDF

Extent of contamination as of end 2017

Landmines

41.58kmCHA and 48.51kmSHA (includes areas in the West Bank). This does not include areas “deemed essential to Israel’s security”

Cluster munition remnants

None

Other ERW contamination

Extent not reported

Land release in 2017

Landmines

0.66kmcleared, 0.52kmcancelled. 737 antipersonnel mines and 133 antivehicle mines destroyed
IDF results are not reported

Other ERW

38 items of UXO destroyed during mine clearance.

Progress

Landmines

Israel continues to make progress in clearing mines. However, it does not report on any clearance of minefields that are deemed to be essential for national security
Israel oversees clearance in the West Bank (see the Palestine profile for details)

Notes: CHA = confirmed hazardous area; SHA = suspected hazardous area; ERW = explosive remnants of war.

Contamination

The exact extent of mine contamination in the State of Israel is not known. Israel has reported 41.58kmof confirmed mined area and a further 48.51kmof suspected mined area, as of the end of 2017.[1] The combined 90kmrepresents only the area affected by mines that are not deemed essential to Israel’s security. The size of other mined areas is not made public. It includes 18.38kmof mined area in the Jordan Valley (11.84kmof antipersonnel mined area, 6.19kmof antivehicle mined area, and 0.35kmof mixed antipersonnel and antivehicle mined area) and the West Bank[2] (see Palestine’s profile for further information).

Mine contamination (at end 2017)[3]

Type of contamination

CHAs

Area (km2)

SHAs

Area (km2)

AP mines only

201

19.93

5

39.54

AV mines only

29

17.00

8

1.17

AP and AV mines

2

4.65

9

7.8

Total

232

41.58

22

48.51

Note: AP = antipersonnel; AV = antivehicle.

 

Israel’s mine problem dates back to World War II. Subsequently, Israel laid significant numbers of mines along its borders, near military camps and training areas, and near civilian infrastructure. In August 2011, Israel’s military reported planting new mines to reinforce minefields and other defenses along its de factoborder with Syria in the Golan Heights.[4]

The 2017 estimate of 90kmfor mined areas that are not considered essential for Israel’s security is a small reduction on the 2016 estimate of 91km2.[5] The 0.66kmof mine clearance in Israel and over 0.52kmof cancellation through survey in Israel in 2017, was offset by the discovery of 1.17kmof new, previously unrecorded, mine contamination.[6]

Mine contamination in Israel impacts progress in regional development, and poses a risk to local communities.[7] In the Golan Heights the mines laid by Syrian forces remain largely unknown and areas have been fenced off by the Israel Defense Force (IDF). However, according to an online media report, fencing is not always properly maintained with warning signs, and civilians occasionally cross into minefields looking for edible plants.[8]

Program Management 

The Israeli National Mine Action Authority (INMAA) is responsible for undertaking a “comprehensive program of mine clearing projects inside Israel.”[9]

The INMAA, which has 10 staff, was established in the Ministry of Defense, with ministry staff responsible for planning mine action.[10] The INMAA manages a “minefield information bank” that is open for public queries concerning demining plans and programs.[11]

Strategic planning 

The INMAA has a multi-year clearance plan for 2017–2020 that plans to focus on technical survey and clearance in the Golan Heights[12] in the spring/summer/autumn, and in southern Israel (the Jordan Valleyand Arava Plain) in the winter.[13]

In addition, the INMAA continues to oversee HALO Trust clearance projects in Area C of the West Bank, funded by the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States (via ITF Enhancing Human Security).[14] Furthermore, at the start of 2017, the INMAA began survey of the Jordan Valley minefields in the West Bank, using national budget and operating through Israeli companies. The INMAA sees significant potential for cancellation and reduction of land in the Jordan Valley, and is using various technologies and scientific tools to measure mine drift possibilities.[15] (See the Palestine profile for further information). A number of development projects funded by local electricity, water, and infrastructure companies and authorities also pay for mine clearance.[16] The INMAA, “defines clearance policies, sets the national priorities and implements them in coordination with other relevant governmental ministries, the IDF, and local authorities.”[17] Clearance tasks are assigned according to a classification formula laid down by the INMAA, and prioritization is set nationally every three years. The criteria usedfor the formula are largely based on the risk level and development potential of the affected areas.[18] In 2016, it was reported that INMAA had been conducting a study of the social and economic impacts of land released over the last four years, as well as on the potential impact for future clearance sites.[19]

Legislation and standards 

The 2011 law on minefield clearance aims to “to create a normative infrastructure for the clearance of minefields that are not essential to national security, and to declare them as free from landmines with the highest degree of safety to civilians, in accordance with the international obligations of the State of Israel, and within the shortest period of time possible.”[20]

The INMAA sets national standards “taking into consideration the procedures of the Israel Defense Forces that will be as compatible as possible with the International Mine Action Standards.”[21]

Quality management

Every mine clearance project in Israel has an INMAA supervisor, a quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) contractor, and a clearance operator. Four QA/QC contractors were formally registered as of May 2018, namely: 4CI, Dexagon, Gaman, and Zeev Levanon. Of these four, 4CI and Gaman were contracted to conduct QA and QC of clearance operations in 2017.[22]

Operators 

Commercial companies are contracted to conduct clearance as well as QA and QC.In 2017, clearance was contracted to four national companies: 4M, the Israeli Mine Action Group (IMAG), Maavarim, and Safeland. In addition, Ecolog conducted geomorphological and hydrological surveys in 2017, together with the INMAA, to assist with cancellation of previously flooded SHAs that could potentially contain mines.[23]

Israel uses several kinds of machines in its mine clearance operations for ground preparation, survey, and clearance. They are said to include, as and where appropriate: screening and crushing systems, bucket loaders, excavators, sifters, and flails/tillers. Some of these operations are conducted by Israel directly, while others are performed by contractors.[24]

Throughout 2016 and 2017, the INMAA was supported by the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) in developing its animal detection system capacity.[25] A pilot project using mine detection dogs (MDDs) was conducted in 2017,[26] but was not successful.[27] However, after investigating and conducting further research into animal detection and behavior, the INMAA plans to conduct another trial in 2019.[28]

In 2017, 106 demining personnel and 36 machines were deployed for clearance operations.[29] This is a decrease on the 130 explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) personnel and 50 machines deployed in 2016.[30]

The IDF also conduct mine clearance according to their own mine action plans “that are executed by their military methods and techniques.” They have an annual program that includes demining, monitoring, and maintenance of mined area protection.[31] During wintertime, the IDF give special attention to minefields that are close to farms, residential areas, or hiker routes, as mines may be carried into these areas by floods.[32]

In addition, the INMAA reported that it had secured the continuation of HALO Trust’s clearance program in Area C of the West Bank until the end of 2019.[33] HALO Trust works under the auspices of both the INMAA and the Palestine Mine Action Center (PMAC), primarily with funding from international donors[34] (see the Palestine profile for further information).

Land Release 

In 2017, more than 0.66kmwas released through clearance (excluding the West Bank),[35] compared to 0.92kmof cleared in 2016.[36]

In addition, 0.52kmwas cancelled by Ecolog through non-technical survey in Zofar, in the Middle Arava area in 2017. No mined area was released by survey in 2016.[37]

(For further information on survey and clearance in the West Bank, see Palestine’s profile.)

Survey in 2017

In 2017, 0.52kmwas reported to have been cancelled through secondary non-technical survey by Ecolog, in collaboration with the INMAA, in Zofar in the middle Arava area of Israel.[38]

A further 0.85km2 was also cancelled through non-technical survey by Ecolog in 2017, in collaboration with the INMAA, in the Jordan Valley in the West Bank[39] (see Palestine profile for further information).

More than 1.17kmof new, previously unrecorded, mine contamination was discovered in 2017.[40]

Clearance in 2017 

More than 0.66kmof land was cleared in 2017 (excluding the West Bank), with the destruction of 737 antipersonnel mines, 133 antivehicle mines, and 38 items of unexploded ordnance (UXO).[41]

Mine clearance in 2017 (excluding the West Bank)[42]

Operator

Region

Location

Type of contamination

Areas released

Area cleared (m²)

AP mines destroyed

AV mines destroyed

UXO destroyed

Maavarim

Eilot

Eilot

AP mines

4

201,709

49

0

1

Timna

AP mines

3

154,210

51

0

1

Safeland

Middle Arava

Ein Yahav

AP mines

2

65,338

16

0

0

4M

Valley of Springs

Newn Ur

AP mines

1

20,377

9

 

5

IMAG

Golan Heights

Kela

AP/AV mines

3

222,053

612

133

31

Total

     

13

663,687

737

133

38

 

The INMAA typically plans for mine clearance at a targeted rate of 1.5kmper year (including in the West Bank), based on its current budget.[43]

IDF demining is implemented independently of the INMAA, using military methods and techniques.[44] The area cleared or otherwise released by the IDF is unknown. According to Israel’s Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) Amended Protocol II Article 13 transparency report for 2017, the IDF has made significant progress in “re-surveying mine affected areas, and in examining the possibility of area cancellation, following a completion of a fully detailed non-technical survey.”[45]

In addition, HALO Trust continued its clearance of minefields in Area C of the West Bank in 2017, working under the auspices of both the INMAA and PMAC, primarily with international funding (see Palestine’s profile for further information).

Progress towards completion

Based on the clearance rates of the last few years and the INMAA’s forecasted clearance rate of 1.5kmper year, it will take many years to clear remaining contamination.[46]

Mine clearance in 2013–2017 (excluding the West Bank)[47]

Year

Area cleared (km2)

2017

0.7

2016

0.9

2015

0.7

2014

1.2

2013

2.2

Total

5.7

 

 

The Monitor acknowledges the contributions of the Mine Action Review (www.mineactionreview.org), which has conducted the primary mine action research in 2018 and shared all its country-level landmine reports (from“Clearing the Mines 2018”) and country-level cluster munition reports (from “Clearing Cluster Munition Remnants 2018”) with the Monitor. The Monitor is responsible for the findings presented online and in its print publications.



[1] Email from Michael Heiman, Director of Technology and Knowledge Management, Israeli National Mine Action Authority (INMAA), 26 May 2018.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] “Israel army plants new mines along Syria border,” Associated Press, 13 August 2011.

[5] Email from Michael Heiman, INMAA, 23 July 2017.

[6] Ibid., 26 May 2018.

[7] Ibid., 19 September 2016.

[8] “New Golan mine-clearing project to begin this summer,” The Jerusalem Post, 16 March 2017.

[9] Minefield Clearance Law 5771-2011 of March 2011, unofficial translation. See, Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) Amended Protocol II Article 13 Report (for 2010), Form A. Form A refers to details provided in Form D, but information in Form D has been deleted.

[10] Email from Michael Heiman, INMAA, 26 May 2018.

[11] CCW Amended Protocol II Article 13 Report (for 2017), Form A.

[12] The Golan Heights was unilaterally annexed by Israel in 1981. The move is not internationally recognized.

[13] Email from Michael Heiman, INMAA, 26 May 2018.

[14] Interview with Tim Porter, Regional Director, HALO Trust, Geneva, 15 February 2018.

[15] Emails from Michael Heiman, INMAA, 23 July and 10 August 2017.

[16] Ibid., 19 September 2016.

[17] CCW Amended Protocol II Article 13 Report (for 2017), Form B.

[18] Email from Michael Heiman, INMAA, 23 July 2017.

[19] Ibid., 19 September 2016.

[20] Minefield Clearance Law 2011 (MCL 5771-2011).

[21] Emails from Michael Heiman, INMAA, 6 May 2012; and from Eran Yuvan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 6 May 2012.

[22] Email from Michael Heiman, INMAA, 26 May 2018.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Ibid., 23 July 2017; and CCW Amended Protocol II Article 13 Report (for 2017), Form C.

[25] CCW Amended Protocol II Article 13 Reports (for 2016 and 2017), Form E.

[26] Email from Michael Heiman, INMAA, 23 July 2017.

[27] Ibid., 26 May 2018.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid., 23 July 2017.

[31] Email from Eran Yuvan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 29 April 2014; and CCW Amended Protocol II Article 13 Report (for 2017), Form B.

[32] CCW Amended Protocol II Article 13 Report (for 2017), Form B.

[33] Email from Michael Heiman, INMAA, 23 July 2017.

[34] HALO Trust, “West Bank,” undated.

[35] Email from Michael Heiman, INMAA, 26 May 2018.

[36] Ibid., 23 July 2017.

[37] Ibid., and 19 September 2016.

[38] Ibid., 26 May 2018.

[39] Ibid.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Ibid; and from Eran Yuvan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 29 April 2014.

[45] CCW Amended Protocol II Article 13 Report (for 2017), Form B.

[46] Ibid.

[47] See Landmine Monitor and Mine Action Review reports on clearance in Israel covering 2013–2016.


Casualties

Last updated: 27 October 2017

Casualties Overview

All known casualties by end 2016

16 mine/explosive remnants of war (ERW) casualties

Casualties in 2016

1 (2015: 1)

2016 casualties by survival outcome

1 injured (2015: 1 injured)

 

One antivehicle mine casualty was recorded in the State of Israel for 2016. A farmer sustained minor injuries in the Jordan Valley when his tractor hit an antivehicle mine.[1] In addition, several other explosive s incidents were recorded in 2016 that did not have confirmed mine casualties and therefore were not included in the annual casualty total. In January 2016, a landmine exploded due to a fire, however no casualties were reported.[2] Media reports indicated that a roadside bomb detonated in Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms. Because the incident was not clearly victim-activated, as well as contradictory reporting regarding casualties, casualties from this event have not been included in the Monitor’s global mine/ERW casualty total.[3] A similar ambiguously reported incident occurred in September.[4]

One new casualty was reported in Israel in 2015, when a female soldier was injured by a landmine in the occupied Golan Heights.[5]

No new mine/ERW casualties were identified in Israel in 2014. One explosive incident in the Golan Heights was reported in the media as injuring four Israeli soldiers;[6] however, the Monitor was not able to confirm the cause of the explosion.

In 2013, the Monitor identified three mine/ERW casualties. One soldier was killed in an accident during a demining training course in the Golan Heights[7] and one civilian was injured when he stepped on a mine in an abandoned building in the Jordan Valley.[8] In March of the same year, a teenager was badly injured while tampering with an unexploded ordnance at a home in Safed.[9]

From 1999 to the end of 2016, the Monitor recorded 16 mine/ERW casualties in Israel.[10]

Cluster munition casualties

Cluster munition strikes in 2006 caused 13 casualties in Israel.[11] No further casualties from cluster munition remnants have been identified.



[1] Geneva Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD), “GICHD-SIPRI antivehicle mine database,” provided by email from Ursign Hofmann, Policy Advisor, GICHD, 24 August 2017.

[2]Landmine explosion in northern Israel, no injuries reported,” The Jerusalem Post, 10 September 2016.

[3]Hezbollah Bombing Targets Israeli Military Convoy,” Voice of America, 4 January 2016; and Charles Maccarty, “UN chief condemns roadside bomb attack on Israeli army,” VideoNews, 5 January 2016.

[4]Quand Israël ‘singe’ le Hezbollah” (“When Israel mimics the Hezbollah”), ParsToday, 29 September 2016.

[5] Yaakov Lappin, “IDF officer loses foot in landmine explosion in Golan Heights,” The Jerusalem Post, 4 February 2015.

[6] Yaakov Lappin, “Explosive device detonated near IDF patrol on Syria border; 4 soldiers wounded,” The Jerusalem Post, 18 March 2014; and Yasser Okbi, “Syria denies attacking IDF soldiers on border; says old landmine caused explosion,” The Jerusalem Post, 20 March 2014.

[8]Hiker loses foot after stepping on mine in Jordan Valley,” Times of Israel, 30 October 2013.

[9] Aaron Kalman, “Teen badly injured as old munition explodes,” Times of Israel, 14 March 2013.

[10] See previous Monitor country profiles for Israel on the Monitor website.

[11] Handicap International, Circle of Impact: The Fatal Footprint of Cluster Munitions on People and Communities (Brussels, May 2007), p. 115.


Victim Assistance

Last updated: 13 July 2017

 

The total number of mine/ERW survivors in Israel is not known. “Victims of hostile activities,” including mine survivors, are entitled to benefits, rehabilitation, and grants under the Benefits for Victims of Hostilities Law of 1970.[1] The law prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities.[2]

Numerous government bodies were responsible for providing assistance to persons with disabilities. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services was responsible for overseeing most disability services. The Ministry of Health provided mental health and rehabilitation services, and the Ministry of Education provided special education services to persons with disabilities.[3]

In some cases, the law gave priority to persons with disabilities, particularly in regards to access to public facilities. A government decree requires that 3% of the workforce be persons with disabilities by the end of 2017.[4] However, the employment rate among persons with disabilities in Israel was only 51%.[5]

Lack of accessibility and societal discrimination in multiple areas, including employment, transportation, education, and housing (in regards to access to community-based independent living facilities), were persistent challenges for persons with disabilities.[6]

Israel ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on 28 September 2012.



[1] National Insurance Institute of Israel, “Benefits for Victims of Hostilities,” undated.

[2] United States (US) Department of State, “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016: Israel and The Occupied Territories,” Washington, DC, March 2017.

[3] See previous Monitor country profiles for Israel on the Monitor website.

[4] US Department of State, “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016: Israel and The Occupied Territories,” Washington, DC, March 2017.

[5] Access Israel, “Employment of people with disabilities - legal aspects,” 15 June 2016.

[6] US Department of State, “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016: Israel and The Occupied Territories,” Washington, DC, March 2017.