Thousands Participate in Marathon Honoring Fallen Druze IDF Soldiers.
(photo credit: LILAH WEISS KKL-JNF)
This is the fifth year of the commemorative project held in memory of Druze soldiers who gave their lives during Israeli security and military operations. The race was co-sponsored by the KKL-JNF and the Druze Son’s Trail Association. This year’s event was staged in the Lavi Forest and at Jethro’s Tomb in the Galilee, and was dedicated to the memories of Sgt. Major Kamil Shanan and Sgt. Major Ha’il Satawi, who were murdered in a terrorist attack at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Participants included the IDF Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Gadi Eizenkot; Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked; Communications Minister Ayoub Kara; former Defense Minister Moshe “Boogie” Ya'alon; the Druze community’s spiritual leader Muwafak Tarif and KKL-JNF World Chairman Danny Atar.
“Every year I’m emotionally moved anew, and this year more than ever to see the thousands that came. Almost double the number that participated last year”, said Brigadier General (ret.) Amal Assad, Chairman of the Druze Son’s Trail Association and the event’s initiator. “We have changed venues; we came to the Lower Galilee and we rejoice in the people, the landscapes and Am Yisrael, who all came to identify with and embrace us.”
The Druze Son’s Trail project was established five years ago with the goal of memorializing those Druze soldiers who feel during Israel’s wars and security operations. The project includes hiking trails that bring walkers through Israel’s Druze villages in the north, and KKL-JNF constructed scenic lookouts and memorial sites that honor their contribution to Israel’s security. The entire trail is 242 km long. The Druze community has lost 421 of its members in Israel’s wars, two of which lost their lives two months ago during a terrorist attack at the Temple Mount - Sgt. Major Ha’il Satawi and Sgt. Major Kamil Shanan.
This moving event began in the early hours of the morning, when hundreds of cyclists arrived at the starting line to begin a 30-kilometer circuit around the site. Afterwards, 10- and 15-kilometer runs were planned, but due to extreme heat, they were shortened to 9 kilometers each. Additional 3- and 5- kilometer runs were also held. A non-competitive walk was held too, and the day ended with an 18-kilometer bike ride. All contestants received a participation medal and trophies were awarded to the top three winners in each race category. First place winners were Avi Dahan (15K men’s), Shahaf Amitai (15K women’s), Nir Eilon (10K men’s), Do’ah Suliman (10K women’s), Yuval Bentel (5K men’s), and Jessica Spector (5K women’s).
The races concluded with a powerful ceremony, with the participation of the bereaved families of the fallen, Knesset members and Druze community leaders.
Read more about the Druze Sons’ Marathon, and see photos