Eshkol Regional Council (Hebrew: מועצה אזורית אשכול, Mo'atza Ezorit Eshkol) is a regional council in the north-western Negev, in Israel's Southern District. The regional council's territory lies midway between Ashkelon and Beersheba, bounded on the west by the Gaza Strip while the eastern border abuts the territory of the Bnei Shimon Regional Council. Due to its proximity to the Gaza Strip, the region has experienced numerous sporadic waves of violence, primarily as a result of rocket attacks, mortar strikes, and fires caused by incendiary kites and balloons launched from Gaza Strip. These waves of violence often result in widespread damage to farms and structures within the region.
Regional council (from 1951)
|• Head of Municipality||Gadi Yarkoni|
|• Total||735,520 dunams (735.52 km2 or 283.99 sq mi)|
|• Density||17/km2 (45/sq mi)|
Eshkol Regional Council is linked to Tel Aviv by bus routes 379 (local) and route 479 (express), to Be'er Sheva by bus route 35, to Ashkelon by bus route 36 and to Jerusalem by bus 495. Inside the regional council's territory there are six bus routes linking the kibbutzim and the moshavim to the regional council offices. All bus routes are operated by Dan BaDarom.
The Eshkol region has been the target of thousands of rocket attacks since 2000. Despite Iron Dome coverage in the region, usage of the system is generally limited to populated areas and allows other rockets to land in open areas. As a result, there has been widespread damage to farms, vehicles and various outlying structures. During the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict, farmers reported massive damages to their crops due to rockets landing in open fields.
On 26 August 2014 a mortar shell fired from Gaza was reported to have killed one person and seriously wounded two others at the Eshkol Regional Council.
Since 2016, the region has experienced waves of fires caused by incendiary balloons released from Gaza. The fires have caused widespread damage to farms and local infrastructure. More than 100 fires were reported in June 2019 alone, with reported damage to at least 4,500 acres of farmland. This tactic by Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza is considered to be a form of agro-terrorism.
- ^ "Palestinians fire rocket at southern Israel". Times of Israel. 26 December 2013. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
- ^ a b Ben Porat, Ido (25 June 2019). "Fire breaks out in Eshkol-region community". Israel National News. Retrieved 2 October 2020.
- ^ "Two rockets explode in Eshkol Regional Council; damage caused to vehicle". Ynetnews. 23 July 2014. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
- ^ "2 Rockets Explode in Eshkol Regional Council Causing Property Damage". Israel National News. 10 August 2014. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
- ^ Curiel, Ilana (23 November 2012). "Gaza vicinity farmers suffer millions in damages". Ynetnews. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
- ^ Curiel, Ilana (22 August 2014). "Residents of rocket-battered Eshkol flee again". Ynetnews. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- ^ Hartman, Ben (26 August 2014). "Israeli killed, two seriously wounded in Eshkol mortar strike". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
- ^ Tsuri, Matan; Zituna, Yoav (27 June 2019). "Dozens of fires are daily nightmare for frustrated Israelis along Gaza border". Ynetnews. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
- ^ Gross, Judah Ari. "Beyond kites: 'Fire balloons' increasingly used to set southern Israel ablaze". Times of Israel. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
- ^ Gross, Judah Ari. "Gaza incendiary balloons spark dozens of fires in southern Israel". Times of Israel. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
- ^ "Arson Terrorism: A new method devised by Hamas during the "return marches" to attack the communities near the Gaza Strip and disrupt their daily lives". The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. 19 June 2018. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
- Official website (in Hebrew)