Racing to Bring Oron Home.
(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
On July 21st, some 1000 runners from all over the country arrived during the night at the Oron Observation Point overlooking the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), to take part in the “Running with Oron” marathon. The race, under the slogan “Bring Oron Home”, marked three years to the day since IDF soldier Oron Shaul was abducted by Hamas in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge.
Minutes after the sun rose in the east, illuminating the blue cloud-dotted sky above and the Sea of Galilee below, the countdown began for the start of the race.
1000 people from all over the country took part, including soldiers who served with Oron in the Golani Brigade, friends and family members, residents of the Jordan Valley and surrounding areas, and participants of various youth movements, including members of Bnei Akiva Switzerland. Many wore a blue “Running with Oron” T-shirt.
The fitter runners took the challenging 10 kilometer course which winds through the hills of the Switzerland Forest, situated on the steep slope descending from the Poriya Heights to the Sea of Galilee. The others chose the gentler 5 kilometer ramble through the tree covered landscape. Both tracks were circular, ending back at the Oron Observation Point near the Poriya Youth Hostel. The first runners to return were participants of the longer route.
Oron was a soldier the Golani Brigade’s 13th Battalion and took part in the fighting near Gaza City during Operation Protective Edge. Hamas fired a missile which hit the armored personnel carrier carrying 7 soldiers including Oron. Only six bodies were later recovered by the IDF. Hamas quickly announced that it was holding IDF soldier Oron Shaul and IDF officer Hadar Goldin for a huge ransom, involving the release of convicted terrorists from Israeli prisons. The IDF later confirmed Oron Shaul’s death. The demand sparked off a heated political debate within Israel over whether or not to release terrorists in return for the bodies of IDF soldiers.
“Running with Oron” was the initiative of the Shaul family to emphasize the fact that three whole years have passed since Oron was abducted while defending the State of Israel, and to advance the issue to the top of the national agenda. The event was held under the auspices of KKL-JNF, with the participation of the Jordan Valley Regional Council, the Local Council of Poriya where Oron grew up, the Golani Brigade, the Eden Water Company and the Jordan Valley Runners group. Oron’s aunt, Nava Namimi, repeated the words of her sister Zehava Shaul, who spoke at a mass gathering in Tiberius just a few days earlier.
"Everyone must hear and know that Oron was kidnapped! My son fought terrorists outside the armored personnel carrier and was kidnapped through the tunnels. Three years have passed. Enough! Bring my son home".
Read more, see photos of the ‘Running with Oron’ marathon