(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
In Adamit Park, KKL-JNF’s Northern Region has recently completed work on the scenic lookout in memory of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, which was funded by Friends of KKL-JNF in Canada. Plaques in memory of the three soldiers killed in the kidnapping on Israel’s Lebanese border in July 2006 – Shani Turgeman, Wasim Salah Nazal and Eyal Banin – have been added at the site. Battalion Commander Benny Azran
In a moving ceremony at the site, Dr. Omri Boneh, Director of KKL-JNF’s Northern Region, told those assembled: “Today we close a circle of brothers in arms. This observation point overlooks both the Lebanese border and the Galilean landscape, and no location is more appropriate for a memorial to the legacy of these five soldiers who fell in combat. Families and young people who come here will learn the story of the battle and hear the unique history of each of these young men. I know that nothing can relieve the pain of their bereaved families, but KKL-JNF will be here to support them always.”
The scenic lookout in Adamit Park is only a few kilometers distant from the spot where the soldiers were killed four years ago. The dedication ceremony was attended by the bereaved families, the fallen soldiers’ commanders and comrades, and representatives of KKL-JNF.
Michael Ben Abu, Director of KKL-JNF’s Israel Fundraising Department, was the master of ceremonies. In his speech he thanked Friends of KKL-JNF in Canada for their involvement and their vital contribution, which had made the establishment of the lookout possible. He added: “The memorial that we have inaugurated in this beautiful and unique spot symbolizes how these young men who fell in battle will be missed. For the bereaved families, comrades in arms and the public as a whole, it is a special place in nature where a memory will be preserved for ever. This site perpetuates the heritage of these young fighters, who did more than just speak of their love for their homeland – they exemplified it in their actions.”
The recreational area that KKL-JNF has incorporated into the park overlooks the undulating landscape of Western Galilee and includes picnic tables, drinking-water facilities and restrooms. Visitors to this popular site will learn the story of the five young men, their battle heritage and the values they embodied in both life and death.
Eyal Banin’s parents, Daniella and Amir, told those present that it is very important to them that people visit the site and “get to know Eyal in these surroundings, which are fresh and vibrant in the way he was, and as he would like to be remembered. Memory and memorial are of great importance to us parents, and it has been especially moving to meet our son’s friends here. They just dropped everything and came.”
An explanatory signpost at the site relates how these reserve soldiers set out on what should have been their final patrol before returning home. The pastoral silence was shattered when Hizbullah began to fire mortars at Israeli border communities, in what would later be revealed to have been a diversionary tactic. Two IDF patrol vehicles were attacked with anti-tank missiles, and three of the soldiers – Shani, Wasim and Eyal – were killed on the spot. Ehud and Eldad were kidnapped and taken to Lebanon. After two years of uncertainty, their bodies were eventually returned to Israel for burial. The Hizbullah attack and the kidnapping triggered a military campaign in the north – the Second Lebanese War.
Wasim Salah Nazal’s mother Hilwa: “All the memories are rekindled when I come here. It’s hard to live with this loss, but good to know that Wasim is remembered,” she said.
Warja Faraj, Wasim’s uncle, added, “Wasim and his comrades did not sacrifice their lives in vain. Together we salute all those who fell in battle, and the soldiers who guard us. In sorrow and shared destiny we are all equal. Thanks to this memorial site people will recognize the spirit of sacrifice demonstrated by these boys, and this recognition will make things a little easier for us.”
Shani Turgeman’s father Albert told those present that a memorial had been held for his son just a few days previously: “Since the day I lost my son I have not been the same man,” he said. “It’s as if my heart were missing a beat. When we come here and see the beauty of the surrounding landscape, all our emotions intermingle inside. Meeting the other families and the boys’ friends gives us a great deal of strength, and it’s good that we have a memorial site to unite us all. On behalf of the bereaved families I should like to thank KKL-JNF for establishing the site and the Friends of KKL-JNF in Canada for their donation.”
Ehud Goldwasser’s mother Miki believes that the site will bring visitors closer to the values that inspired the soldiers: “Young people today are guided by the values of the past. I go to visit my son at the cemetery, but large numbers of young people will come here and learn about him in the heart of the green countryside – and I believe this will change something within them.”
Zvi Regev, Eldad’s father, spoke of the importance of completing work on the scenic lookout. “My son was kidnapped, and his comrades who fought at his side were killed. Now that the additional plaques have been dedicated, the memorial is more nearly complete. Eldad was a hiker who loved nature, and I have no doubt that he would have loved this spot,” he concluded.
Avi Attias, speaking on behalf of the Imachem Association for the Perpetuation of the Memory of Fifth Brigade Soldiers and Officers, said he welcomed the completion of work at the site, and added: “This memorial will enable us to inspire others with the battle heritage of reserve soldiers, and we intend to convene here for the association’s annual salute to the fallen.”
thanked KKL-JNF for establishing the
scenic lookout as a special place not only for family and friends, but
for all citizens of the country: “There is no place that better
represents the landscape where the boys spent the final weeks of their
lives while on reserve duty, and there is no more appropriate spot to
perpetuate their memory,” he said.
Adamit Park is situated on Adamit Ridge amidst the wild scenery of the
cliffs of Nahal Betzet and Nahal Namer. The park is planted with
woodland and orchard trees and includes marked hiking trails and
observation points. A scenic road encircles the park, and the
recreational area is the starting point for a walk to the famous
Rainbow Cave or along the path through the orchards among carob trees,
oaks, fig trees and terraces planted with aromatic herbs. The
archeological remains found in the area are evidence of continuous
settlement from the Early Bronze Age until the Ottoman period.
The site attracts large numbers of visitors from all over Israel, who
will now be drawn not only to the magnificent view it commands, but
also to Israel’s unique human landscape – the story of five young men
who laid down their lives for their country.