NEW YORK POST:
Hundreds of crocodiles are left stranded on a West Bank settlement after an Israeli businessman’s plans went awry — leaving officials fearing an “international incident,” according to a new report.
The crocodiles were initially taken to the settlement of Petza’el in the mid-1990s as a tourist attraction, but ongoing Israeli-Palestinian violence kept visitors away, the Associated Press reported.
Then entrepreneur Gadi Biton swooped in with hopes of selling the reptiles for their skin.
His plans fell through after Israel passed a law in 2012 calling crocodiles protected animals and banning raising the animals for sale as meat or merchandise. Repeated efforts to sell them overseas have tanked, David Elhayani, head of the Jordan Valley Regional Council, told the AP.
“We found ourselves with hundreds of crocodiles in this farm that no one knows what to do with,” he said.
Meanwhile, the crocs have become a nuisance for the owner, the region and Israel. Dozens of them escaped on two occasions — including one incident in which 70 disappeared, only to be found after a three-day search. They are also constantly reproducing, and are expected to be thousands-strong in the coming years.
“I don’t want to think of what will happen if a crocodile manages to escape and reaches the Jordan River, and then we’ll have an international incident,” Elhayani added. “Maybe then someone will wake up and find a quick solution to this problem.”
Biton has tried to resettle the crocs in Cyprus, but residents’ opposition has halted his efforts. He declined to speak to the AP.