In an echo of an ancient Biblical tale, a swarm of locusts crossed from Egypt into Israel’s Negev Desert Tuesday afternoon, and local politicians and farmers were calling on the government to take action before it caused serious damage.
“I have no doubt that the locusts can be prevented from destroying producing agricultural fields,” Shmulik Rifman, head of Ramat Hanegev Regional Council, said in a statement.
The flying insects were headed toward the Sde Boker kibbutz in the central Negev.
On Monday Israel sent out planes to spray pesticides over agricultural fields to prevent damage by a different small swarm, which numbered about 2,000 locusts, said Dafna Yurista, a spokeswoman for the Agriculture Ministry. Rifman said he hoped that action would be repeated.
Locusts can have a devastating effect on agriculture by quickly stripping crops. Farmers on Monday told Israeli media they were worried about a potential onslaught.
“[The locusts] may not have ruined Pharaoh, but they could ruin us,” Tzachi Rimon, a farmer, told Israel’s Channel 10 TV, in a reference to the biblical story of the Ten Plagues sent to torment the ancient Egyptians and their ruler for enslaving the Jews. The story is central to the narrative of the Passover festival, celebrated later this month by Jews around the world.
Yurista said the number of locusts was relatively small, but “just because they aren’t many doesn’t mean we are ignoring them.”
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