Roots Of Peace in Israel/West Bank
On February 6th 2010, 11–year–old Daniel Yuval was playing with his family in the snow on the Golan Heights, when he stepped on a landmine and lost his leg from the explosion. Inspired by Daniel’s courage and challenge to his country to remove all of its landmines, the Campaign for a Mine-Free Israel, led by Roots of Peace, has succeeded in bringing the long neglected problem of landmines to the forefront of public discourse and action.
Rallying people and organizations from all sectors, including the Government of Israel, Palestinian Authority, U.S. Department of State, landmine survivors, NGOs, military, media, decision makers and the private sector, Roots of Peace has built a broad consensus to begin humanitarian clearing of all non-operational minefields which have been holding hostage precious farmland and claiming lives and limbs for more than four decades. More than one million landmines and unexploded ordinance (UXO), that serve no further military defense purpose, prevent access to more than 50,000 acres of productive land in Israel, the West Bank and the Jordan River valley.
Roots of Peace has an historic and precedent-setting opportunity to begin its innovative Demine~Replant~Rebuild® work in Israel and the West Bank, where these minefields occupy agricultural and grazing lands and in some cases surround sacred sites like Qasr el-Yahud, near Jericho on the West Bank of the Jordan River—where Jesus was baptized—a place sacred to people of Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths alike. Qasr el-Yahud—Arabic for “Palace of the Jews”—is also the site of the Israelites’ crossing into the land of Caanan, and the ascension of Prophet Elijah into heaven. In Islam, the site is on a route walked by the Prophet Moses, between Mount Nebo and Nabi Musa. Once the minefields are removed, Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious pilgrims and cultural tourists from Israel, Palestine, Jordan and around the world will be able to visit this sacred place, helping to build interfaith bridges of peace and tolerance throughout the Middle East.
Hundreds of thousands of landmines and UXO remain within and surrounding Palestinian communities throughout the West Bank, putting innocent civilians at risk of injury and death. Since marking and fencing is poorly maintained and mine risk education virtually non-existent, most of the recent casualties have been children. During the past year, Roots of Peace has been working intensively with the Government of Israel, Palestinian Authority, U.S. Department of State, the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and have now received approval with these groups to undertake the initial projects at Qasr el-Yahud and the Fields of Bethlehem at Husan village, a Palestinian community dating from the 3rd century A.D.
Roots of Peace with its Israeli and Palestinian partners is now ready to begin the first phase of Demine~Replant~Rebuild® work at Qasr el-Yahud and the Fields of Bethlehem at Husan. The fact that both the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority have signaled their willingness to support this effort, positions mine action and replanting as crucial tools to promote urgently needed cooperation between the two parties. The success of these high profile initial projects will establish the legal, geopolitical and socioeconomic support needed to carry forward this timely peace building work throughout Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Funding Needed: The estimated budget to develop and implement these initial projects during the 3–year period 2011–2013 is $2.5 million. Additional funding will be provided by the Government of Israel for their work on the project. Roots of Peace is preparing funding proposals for the U.S. Agency of International Development (USAID) for $2 million to support the primary project activities described on the following pages. ROP is also seeking urgently needed immediate grant funding of $500,000 from individual donors and private foundations to assure that the implementation phase can begin right away in early 2011, while the longer-term USAID and other donor funding is secured.