Thousands of people came on Friday to the Oz veGaon Nature Preserve, above the Gush Etzion Junction, to mark the second anniversary of its founding. It was established in memory of the three famous youths who were abducted and murdered by Palestinian terrorists, and the search for whom united the entire nation in prayer and concern.
Entitled “Growing together at Oz veGaon,” the moving ceremony was held in the presence of the youth's families and the Head of the Gush Etzion Council, Davidi Perl. It was organized by Women in Green (WiG), which has spearheaded the drive to establish a Jewish presence at the site – and oversees the upkeep and educational programs that take place there.
The three youths were abducted from the Gush Etzion Junction, which has undergone renovation and new artistic decoration in recent weeks. The boys' parents praised the decision to bring life and optimism to the site.
WiG co-chair Yehudit Katsover told the participants how the decision was made to "move out" to the preserve on the very night that the bodies of the abducted youths were found after several weeks of searching. She said that the organizers saw in their mind's eye the place bustling with life, in keeping with the "way of Zionism – development and growth from pain."
"It could also be otherwise," she said. "We could and should cut off the enemy’s hope by applying Israeli sovereignty." Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria is another major campaign led by Women in Green.
“Without the backing of the people, the parents, the council, the IDF and the various other bodies this would not have succeeded, and this is why we came to say Thank you,” said co-chair Nadia Matar. She then listed the activists and donors who contributed to the event as well as to the past two years' worth of activities at the preserve.
Uri Yifrach, father of Eyal, one of the three murdered youths, read aloud a passage that Eyal wrote just a few days before he was murdered, in which he related to the difficulties along the way to our goals: “The path is the value, and without the path, you will not arrive at the destination. We would be glad to do without the path, and get to the goal, but G-d put us on the path. We must understand that if the path takes time, this is the will of G-d. The path will have casualties, it is difficult and grueling, but it takes us closer to the goal. Every step on the path creates life, and when you are on the path, give it your all. Take advantage of every moment of your life as if it was your last day."
Bat-Galim Shaer, mother of Gil-Ad, related to the poem, “My Life is in Your Blood," while Naftali's mother Racheli Frenkel drew a parallel to the terrorist murder of Hallel Ariel the previous day in Kiryat Arba: “We woke up in the morning [to the news] and the only thing we wanted to do was to embrace the Ariel family and the memory of Hallel, our lost princess. I heard Rina [Hallel's mother] cry “My life is in your blood”, and this morning became a song in praise of life for those who choose to live here, for the joy that fills this place with energy and with wonderful youth and visitors who come from all over the world."