Israeli farmers 'threaten to suicide' by entering Lebanon
Israeli farmers on Tuesday attempted to storm the Israel-Lebanon border in an alleged "collective suicide attempt" during a protest against agricultural reforms, a pro-Hezbollah channel has claimed.
The Israeli finance ministry's reforms seek to reduce taxes on some agricultural imports from other countries to significantly reduce food prices for consumers.
During the protest, the farmers approached the border and confronted the Israeli army and Israel Police Special Patrol Unit who tried to prevent them from vandalising the fence.
مستوطنون في مستعمرة (افيفيم) صلحا مقابل مارون الراس اصابوا السياج بأضرار وهددوا بالعبور إلى لبنان و الانتحار !!— علي شعيب || Ali Shoeib 🇱🇧 (@alishoeib1970) August 17, 2021
احتجاجا على السياسة الزراعية لحكومة العدو pic.twitter.com/353NU50vDK
According to Hezbollah's news channel Al-Manar, the farmers were heard threatening to enter Lebanon as a "form of committing suicide".
The Lebanese town of Maroun Al-Ras lies on the other side of the border fence.
The Israeli army said in a statement that "a number of demonstrators sabotaged the border fence, crossed it a few metres into an enclave in Israeli territory and were immediately returned by police forces. No crossing of the border into Lebanese territory took place".
"[Israeli] forces are deployed in the area and are assisting Israel Police in maintaining order," the statement added.
Following previous demonstrations, farmers called on the government to reach an agreement and not act unilaterally. They fear that opening the market to duty-free imports will harm the agriculture industry in Israel.
"The reform of the finance and agriculture ministers will result in the elimination of agriculture in Israel, will not lower prices for citizens - but will only enrich the retail chains and importers," said Avshalom Vilan, secretary-general of the Israel Farmers' Federation, according to the Jerusalem Post.
"Instead of dealing with the real problems - the piggish profit of the retail chains, which make billions and sell the agricultural produce at double and three times the price the farmer receives, and in the mediation gaps (the gap between the farmer's price and the retail price) that make prices more expensive, the ministers choose to harm the egg, fruits and vegetable farmers," he added.