Locust swarms strike southern Israel as Jordan, Saudi Arabia monitor situation

Published November 21st, 2004 - 02:00 GMT

The wave of locusts that struck Israel over the weekend intensified Saturday evening, with a fresh swarm of relatively large locusts being spotted over the southern city of Eilat and with the insects reaching as far north as the southern section of the Dead Sea. 


The locusts were expected to move further northward on Sunday with the help of southwesterly winds. However, the expected significant drop in temperatures on Sunday would force the locusts to remain on the ground and would slow their movement northward. This would make it easier for crop dusters to exterminate them from the air. 


The Israeli Agriculture Ministry stated, however, that it wasn't clear whether the new swarms of locusts might move further north in Israel or carry on into Jordan.  


Meanwhile, in Jordan, upon directives from the Jordanian King, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Khaled Sarayreh ordered the Armed Forces to monitor the arrival of locust swarms.  


War Operation Director in the Jordanian Armed Forces  

Abdullah Matter said that the Armed Forces took every necessary step to combat this plague as it arrives in the Kingdom, Petra news agency reported Saturday. 


A meeting was held at the Jordanian Armed Forces Headquarters in the presence of agricultural officials, to discuss preparation and coordination between concerned parties to face the locust plague, Matter told the news agency. 


"60 vehicles of different kinds and planes from Jordanian  

Air Force are allocated to take part in the campaign spraying against locusts before the swarms have devoured crops", Matter said. 


The United Nations Food and Agriculture Agency on Friday  

warned Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia and Sudan to take control measures.  


The Israeli Agriculture Ministry received a request from its Palestinian counterpart to coordinate steps aimed at eliminating the locusts if they do arrive in the area.  


In the Saudi Kingdom, meanwhile, authorities are braced for a possible invasion of locusts that over the past months have been invading swaths of Northwest and West Africa and have over the past days crossed into Egypt and southern Israel.  


Officials at the Saudi Ministry of Agriculture said the possibility of locusts reaching the Kingdom is high while the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said most of the swarms in northern Egypt were expected to move toward the Red Sea, Arab News reported.  


“The possibility of the locusts crossing into Saudi Arabia, especially along coastal areas, is high now that the swarms have reached Egypt and with the favorable weather conditions adding to the risk,” said Ghazi Hawari, director of the National Locust Research and Combating Center, an affiliate of the Saudi Ministry of Agriculture. 


The locusts first appeared on the coast of Egypt from Libya and then moved southward in the Red Sea trench to traditional winter breeding areas on the coast. FAO has warned a few swarms could cross the Red Sea and reach the coastal plains north of Jeddah. 


Deputy Minister of Agriculture Abdul Aziz Al-Shitri said the Kingdom has made the necessary arrangements to face a possible flow of locusts into the country from Egypt.  


He said early ground teams have been sent to monitor the situation along the Kingdom’s border areas, with workers operating round the clock even during Eid holidays that have been canceled to allow for a close monitoring of the situation. (

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