By David Parsons, ICEJ Vice President & Senior Spokesman
ICEJ Australia was thrilled to learn of a new ICEJ project that would bring restoration to a corner of the Be’eri Forest which included the ANZAC memorial, but which was heavily burned and damaged over recent years by fire kites and balloons launched by arsonists in nearby Gaza. We immediately launched an appeal here. The following is a report of its dedication and official naming.
The dedication ceremony of the new Christian Embassy Nature Park, located on the western edge of the Be’eri Forest, between the historic ANZAC Monument and the Gaza border fence took place during the Festival of Succot. Coming from over 50 nations, nearly 700 Christians attending the Feast of Tabernacles came down from Jerusalem on a mass solidarity visit to the western Negev to tour the region in a show of support for the Israeli communities under repeated rocket fire from nearby Gaza.
The Christian visitors then joined senior representatives of Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund in dedicating a rehabilitated section of the popular Be’eri Forest in the western Negev burned over recent years by arsonists launching fire kites and balloons from nearby Gaza. The ICEJ has partnered with KKL-JNF to replant and restore the 126-acre (512-dunam) plot, which today was renamed the “Christian Embassy Nature Park.” The ICEJ is working with KKL-JNF to restore the scorched area by planting native oak, eucalyptus and other broadleaf trees that are less flammable, provide plenty of shade, and grow fast even in the dry desert climate. Other flowering bushes and plants also will be introduced to the Christian Embassy Nature Park to add to the beautiful scenery and attract more visitors. This includes a special planting of tulips this winter which will bloom around the time the carpets of red anemones also appear in the South.
The solidarity rally was held at the high school of the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council, adjoining Sapir College, and aimed to encourage the Israelis living along the Gaza border and to learn from their resilience. The large delegations of Feast pilgrims also visited sites where the ICEJ has placed over 140 life-saving bomb shelters. Noone new just how essential those shelters were 2 days later, or that these areas would be under attack and invasion.
The were addressed by Mayor Ofir Libshtein of the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council and former MK Shai Hermesh, while IDF Brig Gen (Res) Amir Avivi provided a security briefing. Sadly the mayor, a good friend of ICEJ, lost his life two days later defending his community from the invasion of terrorists from Gaza. His memory will continue to be a blessing to the ICEJ family.
You can be part of the restoration of this beloved Israeli forest by adopting a plot in square meters for replanting and renewal. The project is now a symbol of the future restoration, not just of the forest but the wider restoration of the shattered communities.
Isaiah 61:3 “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”
For every gift of $90.00AUD, you can adopt 50 square meters of the revived forest. You also will receive a special certificate from ICEJ and KKL/JNF as a sponsor of the restored forest.
Donate today at: icej.org.au/get-involved/nature-park/
Photos courtesy of ICEJ International.