Local agency helping Israel turn mines into vines

Israeli Minister of Defense Matan Vilnai made a recent trip to the Bay Area, during which he announced that San Rafael–based Roots of Peace will help remove an estimated 1.5 million land mines and unexploded ordnance in Israel and the West Bank.

At an April 22 ceremony at the San Rafael home of Heidi and Gary Kühn, co-founders of Roots of Peace, an olive tree and a grapevine were planted (right) as symbols of the organization’s slogan “turning mines to vines.” Roots of Peace works globally to unearth land mines and replant the land with local residents.

The agency, Vilnai and many others helped convince the Israeli government to pass legislation last year. The Israeli National Mine Action Authority was established, and it recently finished a plan for the clearance of 60 mines over an estimated 20 to 30 years.

Pictured (from left) are Gary Kühn, major donors Shirley and Paul Dean, agency CEO Heidi Kühn, the Rev. John Balleza of St. Raphael Church in San Rafael and Vilnai. — j. staff