Families of Fallen Druze Soldiers in the Iron Swords War Plant a Tree in Their Memory in the KKL-JNF Ahihud Forest

"We sacrificed our most precious loved ones, who left behind grieving families. They deserve to be commemorated and remembered at every opportunity. The KKL-JNF dedication to their memory is deeply touching," said Imad Habka, father of Lieutenant Colonel Salman Habka from the village of Yanuh-Jat, who fell in battle in the northern Gaza Strip.

 Today (Tuesday), Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund held a tree planting ceremony in the Ahihud Forest up north, in memory of Druze soldiers who gave their lives in the Iron Swords War. The event was attended by the Spiritual Leader of the Druze Community, Shaykh Mowafaq Tarif, KKL-JNF Chairwoman Ifat Ovadia-Luski, leaders of the Druze community, families of the fallen, northern municipal leaders, representatives from the "Yad LaBanim" organization, representatives from Kerem-El Pre-military Academy, and KKL-JNF employees.

During the ceremony, the families of the fallen planted olive trees together in the KKL-JNF Ahihud forest to honor their loved ones while defending the country. This planting underscores the preservation of their memory alongside KKL-JNF's values of growth and renewal.

Over the years, KKL-JNF has strengthened its connection with the Druze community, creating various projects. These range from educational activities in both formal and informal settings to the "Paths of Sons", which spans about 250 km, connecting Druze villages on Mt. Carmel and in the Galilee, featuring 18 initial landmark stones.

 An annual ceremony is also held in the Lavi Forest following the "Paths of Sons" race, which attracts tens of thousands of participants each year.  The "Covenant of Brothers, Covenant of Life" project, which began in 2016 to mark the special bond between the Druze community and the State of Israel, takes place in the Ahihud Forest. Here, hundreds of youths march annually to express central values of brotherhood, cooperation, and hope for a shared future.

Shaykh Mowafaq Tarif, the Spiritual Leader of the Druze Community in Israel, stated, "The Druze community's journey of mourning since the beginning of the war is a journey of mourning for the entire nation. Yet, thanks to this journey, we can maintain normalcy in the country. KKL-JNF's initiative is a touching and significant gesture – planting trees in memory of the fallen here in the Galilee, where the roots of the Druze community have been planted for nearly a thousand years." The planted trees will stand as living testimony to the bravery of the fallen and symbolize the partnership between Druze and Jews. KKL-JNF, as a national institution of the Jewish people, believes in and desires a partnership with the Druze community. The country is no longer the same as it was before but remains in the covenant between the Jewish people and the Druze community, a covenant created by exceptional individuals whom we remember today and will always remember. I hope that this beautiful site will mark a new path in the relations between the community and the Jewish people, thanks to the fallen we commemorate and the shared belief that together we will strive for a better future."

Ifat Ovadia-Luski, Chairwoman of KKL-JNF, said: "The Druze community has walked hand in hand with KKL-JNF for years. Our relationship is deeply rooted and important, covering a range of fields and topics. I sincerely hope that today's tree-planting commemoration provides the bereaved families a place of solace, a piece of land that will grow and flourish. I believe that today's ceremony and our ongoing activities with the Druze community will continue to deepen our important connection."

Imad Habka, father of Lieutenant Colonel Salman Habka from Yanuh-Jat village, commander of the 53rd battalion in the Barak Brigade who fell in battle in the northern Gaza Strip, shared, "Our sons, sacrificed themselves for the security of the state. For us Druze, this is our country too, and it is our duty to protect and defend it. We sacrificed our dearest loved ones, who left behind grieving families, parents, wives, and children. They deserve to be commemorated and remembered at every opportunity. KKL-JNF's dedication to their memory is deeply moving, and this way, everyone has a place to honor our sons".