Colombia seeks Israeli expertise on how to clear land mines

RIO DE JANEIRO (JTA) — A Colombian delegation arrived in Israel to receive training on how to clear land mines.

Colombia sought the expertise of the Israeli Defense Ministry’s National Mine Action Authority on wiping its soil from such deadly devices, the Jerusalem Post  reported. The delegation arrived on Friday.

The South American nation recently signed a historic peace pact with the FARC terrorist organization ending five years of conflict.

Land mines are an international danger, but no country except Afghanistan suffers as much as Colombia, where more people have been killed by land mines recently than any country in the world. In the last 25 years, over 11,000 Colombians have lost their lives due to land mines.


The groundwork for the mission was laid last May, when Israel attended a meeting in Bogota with officials from the United States and Norway to determine how best to help the Latin American country.

“Land mines are singularly dangerous because they can lie dormant for years, only to kill and maim innocent people without warning,” blogged US Secretary of State John Kerry from the meeting.

“At current mine clearance rates, decades will pass before the country is mine free. The United States and Norway believe that timeline is not acceptable. That’s why we are leading a global effort to increase resources and technical expertise to help Colombia win the battle against these indiscriminate tools of war in the next five years,” he wrote.

Israel may be involved in other initiatives as Colombia heals from five decades of deadly clashes, including helping farmers replace FARC’s cocaine-producing coca plants with food crops.

“Israel and Colombia are old friends,” one Israeli official told the Jerusalem Post, adding that Israeli help in mine-clearing efforts in Colombia is a “humanitarian civilian” project.