Annual Jerusalem March Honors IDF, LIBI Fund
By Raphael Poch, Breaking Israel News (See pictures below)
Tens of thousands of people from all walks of life and from all over the world marched down the streets of Jerusalem last Tuesday, proudly wearing the colors and waving flags of their home countries.
With thousands of Jerusalemites watching from the sidewalks, balconies and windows of neighboring buildings, the marchers who were participating in the annual Jerusalem March event organized by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) and the Jerusalem Municipality, shared smiles, small gifts, and joy with the resident bystanders.
IDF paratrooper, armor and infantry brigades who had fought in the recent conflict in Gaza, as well as Firefighters, Border Police, and representatives from the Jerusalem Police Department were all at the head of the march. Leading the charge was American Friends of LIBI who marched together with the Jerusalem Brigade.
With the vaunted history of the Jerusalem Brigade, and the dedication that the brigade has shown to the security of the holy city, it was no surprise that they received a place of honor at the head of the march. So to American Friends of LIBI’s dedication to the army was honored by allowing them to march with the Jerusalem Brigade up towards the front of the march.
Representatives of LIBI, the official fund of the IDF, greeted the crowds with smiles and a large sign in English that read: “The IDF marches with you and thanks you for marching with us.” With each step, massive cheers of support erupted from the crowd as the banner came into view.
“It was a truly inspirational feeling holding the sign and marching together with the army through the streets of Jerusalem”, a LIBI representatives told Breaking Israel News.
“Walking through the streets, hearing the cheers of the crowd and watching the smiles on their faces, posing for pictures, all of it gave a surreal feeling of celebration that one hardly feels anymore. It was a bubbly giggly feeling that builds up inside and makes you feel like you have returned to being a giddy schoolboy,” he said.
American Friends of LIBI has been working tirelessly to raise money for the army and was even involved in helping out this years march. One of the officers in the Jerusalem Brigade who was tasked with organizing the Brigade for the March, which includes arranging the logistics for the veterans and their families to march alongside the new inductees, said the following about LIBI’s support:
“Without the LIBI Fund supporting the project, this would not be able to happen. LIBI helps support us and reminds us that we are not alone. This isn’t simply an event for the city of Jerusalem, or for the Jerusalem Brigade by itself. It is a celebration of national proportions, one which reflects the deep rooted connection of a people to its land,” the officer explained.
“When I met with LIBI to garner their support, they made it clear that this was an event of national interest. The LIBI Fund saw this project as incredibly important and were eager to help out. I am very thankful for their help and I cannot agree more with their sentiment. The march, like the Jerusalem Brigade, sends a message, the message of continuity, the message that we are here to stay. This land is ours. It has always been ours. We have returned to our roots in our land, and we will stand strong to make sure that we always stay here,” he explained.
The Jerusalem municipality estimated that over 60,000 people participated in the march, which took place over three different routes throughout the city, and began with a festive opening at Sacher park. Among those who took part in the march were foreign tourists and Christian pilgrims from all over the world.
The Christian pilgrims, arranged in their national groupings, numbered almost 6,000, and were marching as part of the five day celebration organized for the festival of Sukkot by the ICEJ.
One of the notable nations that marched in support of Jerusalem and the IDF was the Pacific island nation of Fiji, whose delegation, along with the 33 pilgrims, included 45 Fijian UN peacekeepers, not in uniform, who were recent hostages of the Syrian Islamist rebel group Al Nusra.
The peacekeepers, who were released from captivity after their country paid a ransom for their safety, were returned to the Israeli side of the Golan Heights, and were able to march with their families who were reunited with them on Tuesday.
Other marchers included stilt walkers in circus regalia, costumed dancers and various companies and veterans from all over the country. But at the head of it all, in a well deserved place of honor, marched representatives of the Israeli Military and Police Forces, and LIBI.