Fifty Australian horsemen re-enacted the historical campaign to wrest the Negev capital from the Turks during the First World War. Their impressive journey passed through KKL-JNF sites in the Negev and received logistic support from KKL-JNF's Southern Region. The horsemen set out from Eshkol Park (formerly Shalal) by way of Golda Park (formerly Bir Asloj) in Ramat Hanegev, towards Beersheba.
The colorful event to mark ninety years since the cavalry charge on Beersheba during WWI took place on 31st October and some of the participants are direct descendents of the horsemen who fought in the 1917 battle!
Residents of the south cheered the Australian riders, whose bloody victory in the battle for the Negev capital and the region around it, in which more than 12,000 soldiers were killed, led to the Balfour Declaration, which was published two days after their victory and expressed the British government's support for the creation of a national homeland for the Jews in the Land of Israel.
The reenactment of the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Corps) charge was theinitiative of the Association for World War I Heritage in Israel, who, together with the Australians, planned the event over the past year, with the help of KKL-JNF, the Beersheba Municipality, the Ramat Hanegev, Bnei Shimon and Eshkol regional councils, the Australian Embassy and the Sde Boker College.
The highlight of the events was the mounted parade in the old city of Beersheba and the re-enactment of the charge on the Negev capital, which took place near the historic Turkish bridge in the southern part of the city. Guests included senior representatives of the Australian government, representatives of the countries participating in the battles - Australia, Britian and New Zealand - with officers and soldiers from the various combat forces. The journey included the annual traditional memorial ceremony at the British Cemetery for the 1,239 soldiers who fell in the battle.
KKL-JNF's guides from the Education Division led a tour for 250 pupils from schools in Ramat Hanegev, Zin and Mashabim. In Eshkol Park, the pupils reconstructed a mosaic of the Shalala church and took part in a treasure hunt in park sites. During the horsemen's parade, the students waved Israeli and Australian flags and cheered the horsemen enthusiastically.
Ami Uliel, director of KKL-JNF's Southern Region, noted that before these events, KKL-JNF had helped the horsemen organize a pilot event and now hosted them at Golda Park, Eshkol Park and Beit Eshel. At the reception, Ami Uliel warmly congratulated the riders, lauded all the ongoing cooperation with KKL-JNF Australia - which recently helped sponsor World Cleanup Day in Israel - and committed to many projects that promote Negev development.
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