With no warning, Israeli farmers on Egypt border find themselves set to be surrounded by Palestinian enclaves.
Beyond the conceptual map’s labeling of the northern reserve a “high-tech manufacturing industrial zone” and the southern one as “residential agricultural,” the two enclaves receive just one other mention in the 181-page plan.
The two enclaves are connected on the map by a thin line ostensibly meant to represent a highway linking them to the Gaza Strip. This highway stretches nearly half the length of the Israel-Egypt border, but doesn’t touch the border itself, allowing Israel to maintain control of all crossings into Gaza and Egypt.
The Ramat Hanegev Regional Council has put together its own map, using the exact same scaling as the American version, in order to determine where exactly their five border communities would fit between the new enclaves.
The municipality discovered that Nitzana and Nitzanei Sinai would be cut off from the rest of Israel by the highway connecting the two enclaves, that the road would run right through Moshav Be’er Milka and that the tourism community of Ezuz would be located inside the southern Palestinian enclave.
But beyond the drawing of the borders, residents argued that the purposes designated for each of the enclaves show a lack of understanding of the topography of the region.
Ramat Hanegev’s research and development head, Yankale Moskovich scoffed:
“Does this look like a map put together by serious people? It looks like it was done by people who do not understand the area.” He explained that while the northern enclave consists of land that is either already being used for agricultural purposes or slated for such use by the municipality, the southern reserve is far more hilly and not at all conducive to farming.
Nonetheless, it was the latter chunk that was labeled as “residential and agricultural” on the US map.
“This is the high-tech agricultural capital of Israel,” said spokeswoman Shira Avrahami. She pointed out that despite there being just 200 families living in the Ramat Hanegev border towns, the municipality supplies the country with 80 percent of its cherry tomatoes, and ranchers from around the world look to the regional council for guidance in desert farming.
Walking through the Nitzana campus, one could hear at least five languages being spoken by the hundreds of teenage inhabitants. The site houses a pre-military academy, a field school that teaches high school students about renewable energy and recycling, a program for at-risk youth who left their ultra-Orthodox communities, boarding schools for Bedouin Israelis and Eritreans, and Hebrew courses for immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
“Finally we have an area that’s not involved in the bloodshed of the conflict and now they want to transfer another nation here?”
Header: Children celebrate Independence Day in the Ramat Hanegev Regional Council. (Courtesy)
Read the full article: TOI