Heartbreaking: Yuval Eilat’s widow releases cutting statement: “Our lives have been destroyed, and the camel caravan marches on.”

Three weeks after the fatal camel accident that cost Yuval Eilat Uzan his life, a herd of camels was seen roaming the Negev roads this morning. Regavim: “The Ministry of Agriculture’s negligence is a ticking time bomb.”

Just three weeks ago, Yuval Eilat Ozan, a resident of Kibbutz Dvir, was killed when he hit a stray camel while driving to work in Be’er Sheva. This morning, motorists reported on a herd of stray camels roaming the winding roads between Arad and Masada, endangering motorists’ lives. Judith Eilat Ozan, Yuval’s widow, decried the continuing chaos in the south, and criticized the authorities for ignoring the problem.

“Around three weeks ago, our lives and the lives of our beloved Yuval were decimated,” she says in pain. “It’s hard enough to come to terms with this blow and this unnecessary death, but the most shocking thing is to discover that his life and ours are of no importance; we are unprotected, and the caravan of camels continues to walk the roads of the Negev as if nothing happened. More camels, and more accidents, are on the way.”

“We are honest, law-abiding people who have always believed that the authorities should take responsibility for human life and insure people’s safety. This disregard, this abandonment, and the danger of this ongoing threat haunt us constantly. Perhaps if this problem is addressed and the government takes responsibility it will give some meaning to Yuval’s unnecessary and painful death.”

The Regavim Movement, which has been monitoring and addressing the phenomenon of camels roaming the Negev and led the battle for legislation of the 2018 “Camel Law” passed in 2018 by MKs Bezalel Smotrich and Eitan Kabel, notes that the Ministry of Agriculture is dragging its feet and stalling the full implementation of the law, which requires camels to be marked with a subcutaneous chip and imposes criminal liability on owners of wandering camels.

Yakhin Zik, Director of Operations at Regavim, says: “Fatal road accidents involving camels are a shocking phenomenon that must be eradicated. The Ministry of Agriculture has failed to implement the law and has not completed the camel registration and chip-identification that is meant to force owners to keep a close eye on their animals. We are working on an official Knesset plenum query on this matter and we will continue to monitor developments closely.”

Camels seen on 11 May, near Arad and Masada
Site of yet another deadly camel crash

This morning (October 6), Shaadi Abu Alkiyan of Hura (28) succumbed to wounds resulting from a collision with a wandering camel last week on the main road to his hometown. At the same time as this fatal accident, two other Israelis were wounded in another car crash with a camel near Ovda. Regavim places the blame for these tragedies squarely on the shoulders of the Ministry of Agriculture’s Veterinary Services Division.

The Veterinary Services Division of Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture has failed to enforce the “Camel Law,” which requires registration of ownership of all camels in the Negev, and identification of each camel with a subcutaneous electronic chip. These regulations were formulated in order to prevent camel owners from allowing their animals to roam freely, and to create legal responsibility for any damages caused by unrestrained or improperly attended camels.

Legislation of the “Camel Law” began after David Cohen of Retamim was killed in a collision with a camel in December 2014. In reaction to the accident, Regavim and the bereaved residents of Retamim, who were joined by MKs Betzalel Smotrich and Eitan Cabel, spearheaded efforts to combat the scourge of roaming camels.

Regavim presented alarming Police Department data at a Knesset hearing on the proposed legislation: Every year, more than 1,000 citizens register complaints about wandering camels on the roads of southern Israel, but time after time, the authorities are unable to identify the owners, levy fines, or impose legal sanctions that would deter owners from further reckless negligence that continues to take its toll.

The Camel Law passed its final readings in the Knesset in June 2018, at which time the Veterinary Services Division was given six months to put in place the necessary mechanisms to enforce the law before it became fully activated, in February 2019. Although the Minister of Agriculture, Uri Ariel, was a proponent of the law, the Veterinary Service Division objected to the legislative process from the outset, and rejected the electronic-chip identification system.

“Once again, this is a senseless and unnecessary loss of life. The writing was on the wall – and written in blood on the roads,” says Amichai Yogev, Regavim’s Field Coordinator for the Southern Region. “We have lodged complaints against this particular herd more than once. Although the Ministry of Agriculture’s Pitzuach Unit and the Green Police are extremely motivated and poised for action, without the electronic identification tags, no enforcement activity will be able to achieve its stated goals. Abu Alkiyan’s death is the responsibility of the Veterinary Services Division, the most recent in the long list of victims in the past number of years. Regavim will continue to fight this failure in order to prevent the next fatality. We must not allow this carnage to continue.”

This article appeared on Israel365 News