IDF’s Jerusalem Brigade Marches with LIBI in Jerusalem
by Raphael Poch, Breaking Israel News
In 1967 a group of IDF soldiers, who all hailed from the city of Jerusalem, together with a force of paratroopers, reunified the city of Jerusalem that had been divided for 19 years.
After wresting control of the eastern part of the city from the Jordanian military, the group, which was then termed the Jerusalem Brigade, headed south through the Etzion Bloc, which had been conquered by Jordan in 1948, and liberated the Tomb of Rachel.
Following the repatriation of the Bloc, they headed to Hebron where they received the official surrender of the leader of the city and liberated the Cave of the Patriarchs, without causing bloodshed.
“What is special about the Jerusalem Brigade, aside from its vaunted history, is that the original brigade, which had been tasked with the defense of the city and its surrounding area, was made up of people from Jerusalem, of all different walks of life,” a high ranking officer belonging to the Jerusalem Brigade told Breaking Israel News.
“The soldiers who make up the brigade hail from secular as well as ultra-orthodox backgrounds and everything in between. New immigrants and bred-and-born Israelis stand shoulder to shoulder and include both new recruits and aged veterans. The Jerusalem Brigade is a fitting representation of the unique mosaic that makes up the population of the city with all of its varied cultures.”
As a celebration of its history and tradition, the Jerusalem Brigade marches each year as part of an annual parade through the streets of Jerusalem over the Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) holiday.
“There is a deep connection between the brigade and this city, even this region and its history,” said the officer. “We invite people to participate and join with us in the parade.”
The march, which is organized each year by the Jerusalem municipality, celebrates the festival and the international stature of Jerusalem, as well as its reunification and the unity of this very hotly contested city.
“It is very fitting for a city that has such a cosmopolitan populace to remember that it was unified by citizens of the very city itself,” exclaimed the officer proudly.
“That is what the Jerusalem Brigade represents – bringing the people back in touch with their homeland, their holy sites, and each other,” he continued.
Today the Jerusalem Brigade serves as a special-forces-infantry brigade that is called upon to operate in all parts of the country and is active in all major conflicts in Israel. Most recently, the Jerusalem brigade took part in Operation Protective Edge and before that in Operation Pillar of Defense and Operation Cast Lead.
Standing right beside the Jerusalem Brigade during the march will be the LIBI Fund, the official fundraising division of the IDF.
“LIBI helps us out with the logistics and execution of all the special events that the brigade plans. They help us both in the planning stages as well as helping us fund them,” he said.
“We are part of a very modest army that does not spend money needlessly, or on anything that is ‘nonessential’ and that is very much to the army’s credit. However, it leaves us without the ability to commemorate celebratory events with the proper decorum, solemnity and style. Take the march for example. The Sukkot holiday is a time off for many soldiers, and they would not want to take time from the leave and spend it on the march if they were unable to bring their families. Thanks to the LIBI Fund, we can bring the families of the soldiers to the march and thereby increase the participation and morale of the soldiers,” he said.
The Jerusalem Brigade uses the march to introduce its newly inducted soldiers to their older veteran counterparts, those who are no longer serving in the brigade.
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“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.
The officer closed off by expressing his thanks to the LIBI Fund for their support and by reiterating the message the embodies the entire Brigade.
“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 said.