A Green Respite from the Burning Fields

About 500 residents from Gaza border communities participate in a fun nature day at the KKL-JNF Nes Harim Field and Forest Center.

A performance for Gaza border residents at the Nes Harim Field and Forest Center (photo credit: YOAV DEVIR KKL-JNF)
A performance for Gaza border residents at the Nes Harim Field and Forest Center
(photo credit: YOAV DEVIR KKL-JNF)
For years, Gaza envelope municipalities have been coping with the complexity of life near the hostile border. To the old familiar threats – including the firing of Qassam rockets and mortar shells, terrorist tunnels and the infiltration of terrorists – a new threat has recently been added: incendiary kites and balloons. Dozens of fires are started every day, in fields, forests, nature reserves, and municipalities. Dozens of square kilometers were set on fire in hundreds of arson incidents.
Aviad Cohavi of Kibbutz Gevim attended the happening with his wife and their three children. “A day like this gives us a feeling of release and getting away from the pressures. It’s very important for the kids, and for us, the parents,” he said. As a tractor operator in the agricultural fields, he is on the frontline of the struggle against the kite and balloon terrorism. “Every day I’m busy with putting out fires. It’s heartbreaking to see our fields and forests go up in flames.”
The activity started with a show for children, with music and songs, and a lot of love for Israel. The children learned about history and learned of KKL-JNF’s work to cultivate the land. During some of the more familiar songs, the children and parents jumped up to dance together. 
“This day is all about giving,” said Yirmi David, director of the Nes Harim Field and Forest Center. “Our goal is to bring out the Gaza Envelope residents for an experiential break and embrace them with love.”
Gili Maimon, KKL-JNF’s public relations director, stated that the day’s goal is to enable the residents to relax a little from all the pressure and just enjoy the activities and the serenity of Nes Harim.
In addition to having fun, this special day was a morale booster to the residents on the frontline, letting them know that they have not been forgotten by the rest of the country.
“The hug we’re receiving here today is a statement that what happens in the Gaza Envelope is still on the public agenda,” said Sagit Danieli of Kibbutz Sa’ad. “We continue our day-to-day lives, because this is what maintains our sanity.”
Her husband Itamar added: “Life on the Gaza border isn’t simple. It’s not pleasant to leave the house and see vast areas that have been burned and blackened, but our community is strong, and we hope for better times. On this day we feel the hug we’re receiving from the rest of the nation.”