An explosion of natural gas in the Negev desert on Tuesday, near a major gas field in the Galilee, raised the stakes for Israel’s struggling farmers.
The flare sent a plume of thick black smoke billowing into the air, with a plumes of black smoke rising in the air as it approached the town of Beit Jala in the northern Negeb.
The Israeli military said it had responded to the incident with a “coordinated air strike” in the region.
Israel’s military said the flare was caused by “explosive material” and that there was no immediate danger to the population of the town.
“A large plume was emitted and the air conditioner was off,” said Major General Roni Alpher, a military spokesman.
The IDF said a number of Israeli farmers in the area had been evacuated, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.
It said it was the first time in more than 10 years that the gas had flared in the field, and that the military had no evidence of a leak.
“It was a very minor incident,” Alpher said.
“We are still working on finding out what caused the gas to explode.”
Alpher added that the “reservoir was empty” when the flare occurred, but that the IDF had taken the precaution of evacuating farmers from Beit Sakhir, about 80 kilometres away, to the nearby town of Arzoun.
The gas field is located on the outskirts of the city of Beersheba.
It was a gas field that has been used for about half a century by the state of Israel, which is the largest exporter of gas in Arab countries, including Egypt and Jordan.
In 2014, Israel’s gas exports were worth $1.2 billion, and it is one of the world’s largest gas exporters.
It has a history of producing gas through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
It began in the early 1980s, with the introduction of fracking in the southern Israeli Negevi desert.
Israel is currently exploring the possibility of building a gas pipeline to the Mediterranean Sea.
Israeli gas company Leviathan announced in December that it had completed a feasibility study for a gas line linking Beershaft and Ashkelon to a proposed natural gas terminal in Egypt.
The project would be located on an existing natural gas pipeline running from Beershavn, a nearby Israeli town, to Alexandria.