Paramilitary: April 28, 2004


The Israeli army is now using camels to patrol desert border areas that contain terrain too difficult for wheeled vehicles. Israeli border troops in southern Israel patrol a largely undefended border with Egypt. The only traffic across this border area is illegal; smugglers moving prostitutes, drugs and weapons into Israel. The Sinai desert, which intrudes into much of southern Israel, has many sand dunes and terrain that is difficult to drive over. Some of it is so bad that even tanks can get stuck. The sand and hills often create terrain that you can drive down, but cannot drive back up because the slippery sand prevents the wheels from getting traction. The soft sand in some areas is more difficult to move through on foot than deep snow. Camels, which are native to the area, can more easily get across the worst patches, and seem to know, instinctively, which terrain they can cross, and which they cant. The smugglers, often Bedouins native to the area, know the routes they can move along, and the Israeli army vehicles cannot. The army is going to try the camels for three months, to see if it improves they ability to find, and catch, the smugglers. The camels are being rented from local firms that provide camel rides for tourists. Thus these animals are accustomed to carrying people who are not expert camel riders.


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