Recently filed lawsuit claims not only was the Negev farming community prohibited from working substantial area of land due to deployment of missile defense system, but was only made aware of radiation five years later

Matan Tzuri | 07.21.20

Farmers in the northern Negev were unknowingly exposed to very strong radiation for six years, while working near antennas for an Iron Dome missile defense battery in the fields of a local kibbutz, according to a lawsuit against the Defense Ministry recently filed by members of the community.

According to the lawsuit, in early 2012 the IDF installed Iron Dome batteries on some 2.5 acres of kibbutz fields, without regulations or offering compensation.

גיפת ברזל בדרום
An Iron Dome missile battery in southern Israel
(Photo: AFP)

In 2017, the kibbutz residents were told they could not approach the fields near the area – a site at which they had worked freely until then – due to the very strong radiation that the system emits.

“The defendant only recently remembered to update the kibbutz about the very strong radiation the systems emits, and that it is therefore strictly forbidden to engage in any agriculture work in the surrounding area,” the lawsuit states.

“It will become clear that danger of radiation in the field was unknown until the defendant’s notice.”The incident is forms part of a lawsuit filed by the kibbutz against Israel’s defense establishment. The kibbutz residents are seeking compensation of NIS 4.5 million for the damage caused to them by being prohibited from cultivating the area in which the system was installed.

הסלמה יירוט יירוטים עוטף עזה כיפת ברזל שדרות
The Iron Dome shooting down a missile fired from Gaza
(Photo: AFP)

“As of 2012, the defendant took over an area of approximately 10 dunams [2.5 acres] for the purpose of installing missile defense systems to protect from ballistics coming from the Gaza Strip,” the lawsuit reads.

“For the purpose of establishing a military base and laying the systems, the defendant performed groundwork and infrastructure work that included displacing water sources and crops.

“The kibbutz claims that after the IDF took over the area, the Defense Ministry promised compensation for damages, which the lawsuit claims has yet to be paid eight years later.

In the lawsuit, the kibbutz claims that aside from the specific area that cannot be cultivated due to the presence of the Iron Dome, the IDF has also banned farmers from approaching any fields close to the sensitive systems, making them impossible to cultivate as well.

יירוט כיפת ברזל מעל נתיב העשרה הסלמה עוטף עזה דרום עזה
Iron Dome shooting down missiles over Sderot
(Photo: AP)

Furthermore, the kibbutz claims, the strong radiation has disrupted the agricultural systems in the area, causing an estimated NIS 4.5 million in economic losses. The Defense Ministry has yet to submit its rebuttal, but both the IDF and the ministry said Monday that officials have not yet received the lawsuit.

“When it does arrive, it will be studied and answered in court,” the ministry said.