Har Adir Observation Point Dedicated in Memory of Second Lebanon War Heroes

Thursday, July 05, 2012 8:52 AM

An observation point commemorating the 121 IDF soldiers who lost their lives in fierce combat, was inaugurated on July 3, 2012, on Mount Adir.

 


Names of fallen soldiers on Har Adir observation point.
Photo: Yoav Devir

Six years after the Second Lebanon War, an observation point commemorating the one hundred and twenty-one IDF soldiers, who lost their lives in fierce combat, was inaugurated on July 3, 2012, on Mount Adir. The ceremony was attended by the President of Israel, the Deputy Chief of Staff, the Environment Minister and the bereaved families. The site was developed by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) with the assistance of KKL-JNF and a contribution from friends of KKL-JNF in Latin America.
 
The mountaintop, whose altitude is a little over 1,000 meters, views not only the beautiful landscapes of northern Israel but also Lebanon, the land where the war was waged against Hezbollah. When you are in the heart of nature, it is hard to believe that not far from here, so many soldiers were killed. The observation point includes a wooden deck, explanation signs that recount the story of the war, metal plaques engraved with the names of the fallen soldiers and maps of the area.
 
The Dedication
 
“This site is very moving,” said President Shimon Peres at the ceremony. “The breathtaking scenery blends with unforgettable bravery. There could be no more appropriate way to commemorate these young men.” Addressing the bereft parents directly, President Peres said, “You, who raised and educated your sons, are worthy of the gratitude of the entire nation. The true strength of Israel lies in its sons and daughters, and the site we are dedicating today will perpetuate their heroism and courage.”
 
The idea of creating the observation point began about five years ago on the initiative of the bereaved families and a representative of the parents, David Einhorn, father of Yonatan, of blessed memory. "The goal was to connect us, the parents, to the place where our sons went with their heads held high and laid down their lives for the State of Israel,” said Einhorn. “This connection takes on great importance, since we hope that the site will become a legacy for the younger generation, who will learn about the war and know its heroes.”
 
Yishai Soker, KKL-JNF Deputy Director of the Northern Region, said that when he was contacted by the bereaved parents, it was clear that KKL-JNF would collaborate. “This site reflects KKL-JNF's main objectives—connecting to nature, reinforcing our heritage and educating to love Israel and Zionism,” said Soker. “The friends of KKL-JNF in Latin America enabled us to make this dream into a reality.”
 
The dedication ceremony was facilitated by Ariela Goldman, mother of Noam, of blessed memory.
Dr. Avinoam Shiran spoke about his son Daniel, of blessed memory, and about how he had led his soldiers in combat. “Whenever I heard about soldiers who fell in combat, I always knew it was true what they said, that it is the best ones that fall, the ones who lead the way. As long as there are people like that in our midst, our future in this land is assured.”


David Einhorn, father of Yonatan Einhorn OB"M.
Photo: Yoav Devir

A song written by Itai Steinberger, of blessed memory, was performed at the ceremony by the Northern Command Band. Ron Weinreich, who was wounded in the war and has been in a wheelchair since then, sang a song in memory of Yaniv Temerson, of blessed memory.
 
Ami Schreier, father of Yiftah, of blessed memory, read a letter his son’s friends had written in memory of their friends. “It is because of you that we are breathing and loving. It is also because of you that we weep at night with longing.”
 
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who could not attend the ceremony for medical reasons, sent a letter, in which he said, “The heartache of the bereaved families is the heartache of the whole nation. This observation point combines memory and hope—the memory of our sons, and the hope that we may live securely in our land.”
 
Environment Minister Gilad Erdan said that being at Har Adir created a certain dissonance in everyone’s heart. On the one hand, there was the awesome beauty of nature, and on the other hand, there was grief for the fallen soldiers. “There is no doubt that this observation point will attract many visitors,” said Erdan. “Schoolchildren, youth movements and families will come here to learn about the war, to become familiar with the battles, to learn about loving their homeland, and to absorb values of leadership and responsibility.”
 
Shaul Goldstein, Director of the INPA, said that “this awesome lookout connects nature and man. It connects trees with roots to people with roots. From here we can look at the place where our sons fell, and pray that their sacrifice shall not have been in vain.”
 
Deputy Chief of Staff, Major General Yair Naveh, honored the fallen soldiers. “One hundred and twenty-one IDF warriors, who did not return from this war, stood on the ridges of these mountains, looked ahead to Lebanon and behind to their home, and they decided to strike. This observation point is a monument, a symbol of faith and vision. The IDF learned from this war and improved its readiness. We shall continue hoping for peace and preparing for war.”
 
Six years have passed, but for the bereaved families, the memory of their dearly beloved has not. The families will now have this place to convene, a site from where they can gaze at the field of combat and remember their children who are no more. The legacy of the fallen will be perpetuated for generations by young hikers who will come here and view the fields of combat, learn about the war and read the names of the heroes who gave their lives so that the people of Israel could continue living in their land.
The Strength to go on Living
 


Ofer and Mili Lifschitz. Photo: Yoav Devir

“When I immigrated to Israel from Argentina at the age of twenty, I felt that I was ready for any difficulty. I never imagined that the price would be so high," says Ofer Lifschitz, who lost his son Oren in the Second Lebanon War. On the way to the ceremony at Mount Adir, he talked about his son. “Oren was an exceptional boy, who never let himself get away with anything. He loved nature and went hiking whenever he could. I am sure he would have been very impressed by this observation point.”
 
Before he enlisted, the doctors told Oren he would not be able to serve in a combat unit because of medical issues. As is often the case, Oren did not give in and insisted on volunteering for the paratroopers. Later on in his army service, when he was assigned to train paratroopers, he asked to go back to the battalion as a combat soldier. “He liked the army and was proud to be a paratrooper,” says his father. “Even when he was home for the weekend, sometimes instead of going out with his friends, he would put on his fatigues and join an exercise with the other soldiers.”
 
A few days before the forces went into Lebanon, Oren was with his soldiers on Mount Adir as they prepared for combat. They were also impressed by the beautiful landscape and they looked at the areas where they would shortly be fighting. In their hearts, they probably knew that some of them might not be coming back. This feeling did not prevent them, however, from undertaking the task before them.
 
In the first round of battle in the Second Lebanon War, Oren lost one of his friends in the division, and others were wounded. He went to attend his friend’s funeral, and the evening before he went back to the front, he said to his parents, “I hope you understand that I am where I have to be.”
 
As a veteran of the First Lebanon War, Lifschitz knew quite well what dangers his son was facing. “I knew he would always be going first,” he recalls, “so I told him to take care of himself.”
 


Singing in memory of the fallen. Photo: Yoav Devir

When combat resumed, one of the officers in the division was wounded, and Oren took over in his stead. In evacuating one of his wounded friends, Oren was shot in the chest by friendly fire. The tank commander who evacuated Oren, the doctor who treated him, the helicopter pilot who brought his body back to Israel, and many other soldiers have maintained contact with the Lifschitz family since then. “They are the most wonderful people I know,” says Oren’s father. “My connection to his friends from the army has revealed things to us about Oren that we never knew.”
 
As for the observation point for commemorating the war heroes, Lifschitz says, “The people of Israel need this observation point no less than the bereaved families do. The whole nation needs to remember these brave soldiers, because it is thanks to them that we can go on living here.”
 
Knowing that the contribution for the observation point was from friends of KKL-JNF in Latin America evoked strong feelings. “It is a very warm Zionist community,” says Lifschitz about the Jewish community in Latin America. “When I heard about the contribution from KKL-JNF, I immediately recalled my childhood in Argentina, the blue box we always had at home and my grandmother, who always encouraged everyone to give.”
 
Lifschitz has been living in Israel more than thirty years. He married his wife Mili here, and their four children were born here. His parents still live in Argentina, however, in the city of Concordia. The Sephardic synagogue in Concordia dedicated the entrance lobby of the synagogue in memory of Oren Lifschitz.
 
Lifschitz sometimes travels to Argentina, mainly to visit his parents. Oren used to go with him sometimes. “He was proud of being Israeli, but he also liked Argentina a lot—the food, the music and the soccer. Sometimes he tried to speak Spanish, but the truth is, even then he sounded mostly like an Israeli,” says his father with a smile.
For a long time after he lost his son, he could not look toward the north from Kibbutz Gazit, where he lives. The memories were too harsh, and the pain was too deep. Now he is standing on Mount Adir, looking at the places where his son walked his last steps, surrounded by scores of parents who are also dealing with the loss of a son, and all of them are supporting each other like one big family.
 
"Children like Oren never die,” he says. “They go on living inside of us and give us the strength to go on living in spite of the pain.