monument - Dror Artzi - May 6 2011
A memorial stone after the elite unit’s symbol was torn off. Photo by Dror Artzi
Text size

With Memorial Day just days away, the memorial for the fallen of the army's Sayeret Egoz unit has been vandalized.

The site, located in the foothills of Mount Hermon, contains 57 separate memorials. The one for Lt. Dubi Adar, killed in a fight with terrorists at Al Khiam in southern Lebanon, was vandalized, as was the memorial for former Chief of Staff Mordechai Gur, who played a role in setting up the elite unit.

The vandals also destroyed a stage set up at the memorial site, where events for visitors were held.

"We must restore the site by Monday," said Yossi Amit, who belongs to an organization of Egoz veterans. "We cannot have families of the fallen come and see the site destroyed."

Moreover, a ceremony is scheduled to take place at the site in the coming days for soldiers who have completed their training to join the unit.

Members of the organization are now collecting money to restore the memorial. "I put in money from my own pocket, and I am begging for donations in order to complete the restoration mission," Amit said.

Rami Halfon, from nearby Neveh Atib, is the one who discovered the vandalism. "Again and again, our memorial has been vandalized," he said.

Amit added that "the site has suffered destructive attacks for many years. To us, it is clear beyond the shadow of a doubt that the offenders are from the Druze villages in the Golan [Heights]. But perhaps the police are hesitant to confront them."

He said he once sent a letter, written in Arabic, to the head of the Druze local council in the Golan to ask that he work to put an end to the destruction.

"For many years," the letter said, "a handful of Druze residents of your communities has been vandalizing the memorials and commemoration sites we erected at this site - razing them, smashing the plaques at the meeting places for our friends, stealing the metal emblems attached to the rocks - and all with malice aforethought. Moreover, cow and sheep herders bring their flocks into the area and soil it, despite our repeated requests to cease staining our honor and the honor of those dear to us, for whom we set up the site."

Now, Amit said, "veterans of the unit intend to set up nighttime ambushes near the site. If they want to fight us, we know that language."

"We may be old," he added, "but we still remember how to do a few things."

Egoz was set up in 1956 with the mission of preventing Syrian cross-border operations. It was broken up several months later, but then reestablished in 1968. In the early 1970s, the unit was deployed against terrorist groups north of the border, but following the 1973 Yom Kippur War, it was once more broken up. In 1995, the unit was set up for a third time as part of the Golani Brigade and has developed expertise in small-unit operations on the northern front.