The soldiers guarding Avi Chivivian’s organic vegetable farm in southern Israel must first scour every corner of his fields for militants before they give him the all clear: He has six hours to work.

It’s potato planting season for the farms of southern Israel, a region near the Gaza border that the Agriculture Ministry calls the country’s “vegetable barn” because it supplies at least a third of Israel’s vegetables. But Chivivian — one of the few remaining farmers in the area since the brutal Oct. 7 cross-border attack by Hamas militants — no longer lives by the harvest cycle. He’s on the military’s timetable.

“If we don’t plant potatoes now, there won’t be any in the spring,” said Chivivian, who lives in the small village of Yated. “If we put our hands up, we will have a food crisis in Israel.”