Today, January 20th 2011, the Strategic Security Forestation project was launched with a ceremony that took place in Nahal Oz, a kibbutz among many communities surrounding the Gaza Strip. The event was chaired by GOC Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Tal Russo. Also participating was Minister for the Home Front, Mr. Matan Vilnai, as well as additional officers and commanders of the Southern and Home Front Commands, heads of regional councils, and representatives of the Jewish National Fund.
Israel’s southern communities are under increased threats from the Gaza Strip, and this project was implemented as a result. The Southern Command sees this project as an addition to the already existing measures to deal with the security threats. In addition to the security benefits, the project is also environmentally friendly. It consists of planting new trees as well as relocating mature trees.
GOC Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Tal Russo, said: “For me this is the completion of a cycle. I was born into the strategic security forestation in the Hula Valley, which was then used to defend from Syrian shelling. This was the first project placed on my desk as I came into this position. The project launched today expresses the brave connection to the communities surrounding Gaza, and allows us to upgrade our mission of defending the southern communities with environmental benefits.
We stand now, approximately two years after Operation Cast Lead, and the time that passed only reinforces the operation’s successes and the threat it still holds over the Hamas terrorist organization. Despite Hamas’ recent efforts to challenge us, we stand strong. We are training, preparing and equipping ourselves to defend the residents of southern Israel. We will not accept the threat to their communities and will continue operating to preserve the peace in the south.”