Israel National Trail 758E.
(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
The Meeting on the Israel National Trail hike is held in memory of soldiers who fell in Israel’s wars and victims of terrorist attacks, and it is designed to strengthen participants’ Jewish and Israeli identity and encourage dialogue between different sections of society. KKL-JNF is one of the organizers, and its guides lead the hikers along the trail.
The idea for this event originated a decade ago, when Raya and Yossi Ofner decided to commemorate their son Avi and his seventy-two comrades who died with him in the military helicopter disaster of 1997, by setting out to hike the full length of the country along the Israel Trail.
“More and more people came to join us along the way, and nowadays the event has turned into a two-month-long hike with thousands of participants,” explained Raya Ofner. “There’s no better way to meet people and bring different sectors of our society together.”
The hundreds of participants gathered at the day’s starting point at Kibbutz Re‘im included schoolchildren, students on pre-military courses, soldiers, pensioners and other walkers from different parts of the country. Chairman of Eshkol Regional Council Haim Yelin recited the Travelers’ Prayer and everyone stepped out vigorously.
The route led through agricultural land and flower-studded fields, along footpaths and cycle trails
created by KKL-JNF, through woodlands and besides historical sites developed by KKL-JNF with the help of its Friends throughout the world.
“As we walk along we encounter the wonderful landscapes of the Land of Israel, nature in all its green finery and the amazing sites that KKL-JNF has developed,” said Yoav Saad, Operations Director at KKL-JNF’s Education and Youth Division
, who on this occasion was also the group’s principal guide. “This also gives us a further opportunity to salute those who live in the Gaza Periphery despite all the difficulties and dangers life there entails,” he added.
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