An Alamedan and Three Israelis on a Hill

Local Man Honors Druze Soldier, First to be Recognized on Ammunition Hill


By Rolene Marks


On a hilltop in Jerusalem, Ammunition Hill, the site of a legendary battle during the 1967 Six-Day war, is sacred ground. It is from here where IDF troops were able to descend into the Old City of Jerusalem; and those iconic words “the Western Wall is in our hands” sent a wave of hope and joy to Jews around the world.


In the heart of Ammunition Hill, looking over the trenches where those soldiers bravely fought, is the Wall of Honor. Sponsored and maintained by the Jewish National Fund USA and with gratitude to generous donors, the Wall of Honor serves as a tribute to the heroism and courage of Jewish soldiers who, throughout our history, have fought in defense of the countries in which they lived. There are names of soldiers from the US Marine corps who bravely fought to defeat the Nazis, the former Soviet Union who recalled their liberation of the death camp and many other countries as well. The Wall of Honor bears witness and testimony to these brave warriors wherever they served, a testimony that Jews have always contributed to the place where they lived.


Lavi Zamir, Nof, Munir Sheikh, and their child unveil Amir's plaque


Recently, plaques bearing the names of two more soldiers, Amir Sheikh, a Druze soldier from Abu-Snan and Hai Kolomiti, a Jewish soldier from Tel Aviv, who fell in combat nearly 30 years ago, were unveiled. This was not only very emotional for all who attended; but was historical because this is the first Druze soldier’s name to join a long list of Jewish heroes. The only other non-Jew, whose name is on the Wall of Honor, is the legendary Major General, Orde Wingate, a much beloved British officer who was an ardent Zionist.


Druze and Jewish soldiers in the IDF believe that they are bonded together in a “covenant of blood.”


Amir’s very emotional brother, Munir, trying to hold back tears said, “Amir loved people. He loved his family, he loved his father and he was happy outside playing soccer with his friends. It was his dream to serve in the army, in the Nahal brigade. It is very emotional and special to be here today. Our father who passed away recently would be so happy to see Amir honored this way, the first Druze soldier.”


Hai Kolomiti’s father also shared how grateful he was for this honor for his son; and how emotional it was for their family to see him remembered in this sacred space.


Alameda resident Dick Berman made the dedication of the plaques possible. “A few weeks ago at our Jewish National Fund-USA conference in Boston, I had a thought that it would be great to put up plaques for the two young soldiers, especially Amir who was Druze. The Druze serve and die for the State of Israel and it is important that their names be on this wall. We also wanted to surprise Lavi, their platoon commander. He was such an integral part of their lives and remains so for their families. It’s so important that their names be included together on the Wall of Honor."


Munir Sheikh with child and Dick Berman


Lavi Zamir, the CEO Green Horizons, a program that runs youth groups and activities to instill a love of nature in Israeli youth. Founded in 1974 to commemorate Uri Maimon, a passionate hiker and charismatic leader of youth projects who fell in the Yom Kippur War, was completely unaware that a third plaque would be dedicated to him.


Lavi’s emotions were palpable. “It was a very emotional day for me. It is almost 30 years since the time we lost Amir and Hai in the south of Lebanon. I was the platoon commander and the vehicle was hit by a mine. I was injured that day, I remember opening my eyes after the surgery, and both families had sent their [other] sons that were still alive to be with me at the hospital at the same time they were sitting shiva. From that day until today and forever, they will be a part of my heart, part of my family. I think of them every day and I take them with me wherever I go.”


Now, Amir, Hai and Lavi have taken their rightful place amongst the pantheon of great warriors.

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