(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
The dramatic ceremony took place on Wednesday, October 31, in the presence of a large audience of local residents and Australian tourists who listened with rapt attention as Ezra told the story of the battle.
"On October 31, 1917, after walking all night through the desert, Lieutenant General Henry Chauvel assembled his troops about six kilometers from Beersheba. The goal of the battle was to break the Ottoman defensive line that stretched from Gaza to Beersheba. Earlier in 1917, two previous attempts to breach this line had failed. At 11:00, he gave the order to the New Zealand brigade to attack. The battle raged for four hours. There were many losses, but eventually, Tel Sheva on the outskirts of Beersheba was conquered, and the Australian cavalry joined the fight from another direction.
"It was now 16:00, and General Chauvel realized that the job had to be done before dark. He gave the order to attack, and over 800 cavalry in a line formation advanced at a trot that eventually became a gallop. They rode directly into the Turkish fire, and the light horsemen jumped the front trenches one and a half miles from the town. They then dismounted behind the line where they turned and engaged the Ottoman forces with bayonets. The Ottoman forces were in many cases so demoralized that they quickly surrendered. The Battle of Beersheba had been won."
After cheering the Australian Light Horse Riders, who remained on their horses all during the ceremony, the audience was greeted by KKL-JNF Deputy Chairman Menachem Leibovic, who said that KKL-JNF was involved in creating trails for hikers and cyclists, "but we haven't yet gotten involved in trails for horses. After today's ceremony, I can imagine riders on horses in KKL-JNF's forests and woods.
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