Besor Park is a national park operated jointly by the JNF, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, the Eshkol Regional Council and the Mekorot national water company. The park covers 875 acres on the eastern bank of the Besor streambed. In the center of the park, which boasts large grassy areas and thousands of palm trees, you will find the Besor springs, whose water fills picturesque shallow pools as it makes its way to the Besor streambed.
Eshkol Park. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archives
Around the abundant springs the British military built its central water base for its forces on the Gaza-Beersheba front. They also built a dam on the Besor stream that created a reservoir of more than two million litres of water.
The ANZAC mounted forces knew the area as Shellal (the Besor ravine was known in Arabic as Wadi Shellal). At Khirbet Shellal, the small hill east of the springs, the ANZACs discovered a spectacular mosaic that was the remains of the floor of a Byzantine church. The mosaic was moved to Australia, where it is displayed at the Australian War Museum in Canberra.
The British Army laid a railroad track in the Sinai the construction of which advanced as its troops did, until it reached the Besor springs. After World War I, a railroad bridge for the Rafah-Beersheba line was built near the springs. In Besor Park one can see a restoration of part of the bridge and a replica of a train car from the period.
An entrance hall that will contain a replica of the original mosaic and be part of the ANZAC Trail is in the planning stages.
To get there: Route 241, near kilometer marker 6
British Water Reservior at Ein HaBesor. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archives
The Besor Route
The Besor Route runs some 18 kilometers along the western bank of the ravine. The track is suitable for cars, but drive along it carefully. The route was built by the JNF in conjunction with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority , and the Eshkol Regional Council.
Along the route and within the ravine, one can see sections of route of the light rail that traveled from the Besor springs to the British field units that were stationed along the Besor streambed. The route passes through Tel Far’a (Saruhen), which is adjacent to the west bank of the Besor stream. On the hilltop a sign describes the life of the ANZAC horsemen stationed around the hill.
Tel Far'a (Saruhen) surrounded by Turkish excavations and trenches. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archives
Another site is the Reservoir Lookout, located near the new reservoirs the JNF built together with Mekorot with a donation from JNF Australia. The reservoirs, which hold 7 million cubic meters, collect the flood waters that flow through the Besor ravine and purified wastewater from the Dan Region. The water of these reservoirs irrigates some 2,500 acres of orchards.
At the foot of the reservoirs is a sign that describes how water was supplied to the ANZACs that operated in the area.
To get there: The Besor Route starts from Route 241, around a kilometer west of the entrance to Besor Park. The southern end of the route joins up with Route 222 near Kibbutz Tze’elim.