Israel’s Battle Against Drug Producers

Israeli NGO Regavim recently uncovered massive cannabis plantations with tens of thousands of plants carefully hidden in a valley containing the riverbed of the Beer Sheva Stream. The plantations had irrigation systems that drew directly from the stream and were extremely valuable.

One of the drug plantationsOne of the drug plantations (Regavim)

Regavim’s mission is to:

‘Ensure responsible, legal, accountable & environmentally friendly use of Israel’s national lands
and the return of the rule of law to all areas and aspects of the land and its preservation.’

Unlike other cannabis-growing operations that have been spotted occasionally in the area around Tze’elim from airplanes or drones, these plantations could not be seen because, unusually for southern Israel, the riverbed remains green all year round. Thousands of cannabis plants were camouflaged by the trees and bushes that grow along the valley.

Rare police footage of an attempt to smuggle around 100 kilos of drugs into Israel across the Egyptian border was released back in January this year. That footage was captured a year earlier, indicating that this is not a new problem.

The growers involved in the latest find are reported to be criminals from the nearby Bedouin communities. They had even made a swimming pool beneath the cover of the trees to make long working shifts in the hot sun more bearable.

Thus the Israeli authorities have been surprised by the sophistication and scale of this drugs production operation.

Just days after the plantations were discovered, the drug-growers shot at volunteer policemen who stopped to investigate suspicious activity in the area.

On Sunday Israeli Police destroyed dozens of the fields of cannabis plants and the associated hothouses, using bulldozers and other heavy machinery.