Troops sprayed instead of locusts
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Troops sprayed instead of locusts

Agriculture Ministry planes accidentally dump pesticide on soldiers instead of insects; no soldiers harmed

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Israeli paratroopers in training. (photo credit: Kobi Gideon / Flash90)
Israeli paratroopers in training. (photo credit: Kobi Gideon / Flash90)

Armies of juvenile locusts are swarming on the Egyptian border, and the Agriculture Ministry has deployed planes to spray the insects from the air. Unfortunately, one crop-dusting aircraft on Saturday accidentally carried out a pesticide strike on the wrong kind of soldiers — the IDF’s Paratrooper Brigade operating near the border of the Gaza Strip.

No soldiers were reported injured in the incident.

The latest wave of ravenous grasshoppers is the immature offspring of March’s plague of locusts that crossed from Egypt into Israel ahead of the Passover holiday. The adult locusts lay their eggs in the desert sands, and the eggs have now hatched, releasing what experts say are billions of nymphs.

According to a report in Yedioth Ahronoth Monday, despite close coordination between the military and the Agriculture Ministry, one of the ministry’s pesticide-spraying planes bombarded paratroopers stationed in southern Israel over the weekend.

An Agriculture Ministry source told the paper that the authorities notified IDF forces in the area, but that the information was not properly forwarded to the soldiers in the field.

The IDF contended that the crop-dusting plane strayed from the area it was supposed to spray, inadvertently targeting soldiers instead of locusts.

The soldiers were rushed to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba for examination and subsequently released.

The Agriculture Ministry and IDF said they was investigating the incident.

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