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A KKL Belgium mission spent a week in Israel that included field trips to KKL-JNF projects and sites countrywide - particularly those sponsored and established by Friends of KKL Belgium - and endorsed their commitment to continue their activities on behalf of a stronger Israel.
They visited Nitzan where evacuees from Gush Katif have been resettled, attending the unveiling ceremony of an appreciation plaque of Friends of KKL Belgium who enabled the relocation of their trees. A long aisle of carob trees with olives and palm trees, transplanted from the Gaza Strip communities during disengagement, has been planted near the plaque.
Nitzan was established to temporarily settle more than 1,000 families who were evacuated from their homes during disengagement, when inhabitants were forced to abandon their homes, farms and fields. KKL-JNF volunteered to rescue the trees and help some of the evacuees "replant roots" in their new homes.
Speaking at the dedication, KKL-JNF emissary in Belgium Haim Cohen said: "Nitzan symbolizes the friendship between Israel and Belgium. Nitzan's residents were pioneers in the front line of fire and their hardships have not ended as the settlement is located near Ashkelon which has now become a target for qassam rockets. Israel is grateful to its Belgian Friends for their assistance in helping rehabilitate the lives of the evacuees."
"I live in Belgium, but my home is here in Israel," said Veronique Tebou. "Already on the plane, when the pilot announced that we were about to land, I felt that I had returned home. I am thrilled to see these important projects established with contributions from KKL Belgium. Our goal is to bring all the donors to see the wonderful things that have been done here. I am a Jew and feel part of Israel. And our Christian friends feel no differently - they are true friends of Israel no less than I am."
Belgian Jewry Forest, Neveh Ilan, commemorates members of the community who perished in the Holocaust and symbolizes a brave bond between Israel and Belgium. Mission members strolled down the charming paths of the memorial woodland amidst landscapes of the tree-clad Jerusalem Mountains.
Jacques Binstouk was especially excited to find engraved on the memorial the names of his parents who perished in the Holocaust as well as the names of additional relatives. "Being here has strengthened me. I was separated from my parents at the age of 13 and to this day I do not know how they had been murdered. I spent 65 months in the concentration camp of Terezienstat and I survived it. Being here today is my small victory."
Daniel Markovitch sums up the mission's impressions. "In Europe we hear all the time about wars in Israel. But when we see the impressive development and the wonderful people here, we understand that in spite of all the difficulties, Israel is truly a miraculous place. If you can't immigrate to Israel then at least you can help with donations and solidarity with Israel."
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