Announcing the event’s cancellation on August 14, the Organizing Committee of the IDF World Dairy Summit said that the unrest in Gaza, around 50 miles away from Tel Aviv, would prevent it “conducting this event in the appropriate manner.”
The Gaza conflict began on July 8 following the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. Israel responded with a crackdown on Hamas, which later admitted members had carried out the killings. This, combined with the suspected revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager, led to intensified rocket fire from Gaza.
After seven weeks and the deaths of 2,100 people, including around 500 children, in Gaza, Israel and Palestinian militants have has agreed a long-term ceasefire.
Despite this truce, there are no plans to reverse the decision, the Organizing Committee of the IDF World Dairy Summit 2014 said.
Speaking with DairyReporter.com, Tova Avrech, chairman, Organizing Committee of the IDF World Dairy Summit 2014, said that even now the security of attendees was its ultimate priority.
“We let them down”
“Things weren't calm when we decided to cancel and we didn’t know what would happen in the future,” said Avrech. “We couldn’t guarantee a safe summit."
“We didn’t want to cancel. We had been working on this for two and a half years.”
“We’re devastated because we are giving into terror," she said.
Avrech, also manager of innovation and health at the Israel Dairy Board, added that Israel is unlikely to be given the opportunity to hold the annual IDF World Dairy Summit again.
“The location of the event is decided upon five years in advance. Next year it is in Lithuania."
“In a way we let them down,” she said. “I am not sure we can ask for their patience again.”
“It was our mission to bring the world of dairy to Israel. But I am not sure it will be possible in future.”
Around 400 people had registered and paid to attend this year’s IDF World Dairy Summit, which was scheduled to begin on October 27.
Speakers from the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture, local dairies Tnuva and Afimilk, the Israel Dairy Board, Fonterra, Mengniu, Yili, FrieslandCampina, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Rabobank, NIZO Food Research, and Cornell University were among those recruited for the three-day event.
All those that already pre-paid to attend have received a full refund.
“We would like to thank those that registered for their understanding. They were very patient and understanding," said Avrech.
“When you’re far away from these things, they look worse. Knowing what people have seen on TV, I can’t imagine it would be the first choice for people to come here.”