World Environment Day on the Fifth of June is one
of the main tools through which the United Nations increases awareness
of the environment in which we live and promotes ecological activities.
The central topic of World Environment Day in 2009 was to coordinate
international efforts for environmental activities under the slogan:
"Your Planet Needs You."
offered a beautiful hike in Park Nahal Beersheba in the Negev to
celebrate International Environment Day and to increase public
awareness about ecology. The Park has been transformed from a polluted
riverbed with mountains of garbage to a display garden of luxurious
green, a leisure and vacation spot for the public and an outstanding
example of rehabilitation, preservation and development for Man and the
These amazing developments have been enabled thanks to the
generous support of JNF America and JNF Canada. The central promenade,
supported by JNF America has been completed and both residents and
visitors - couples, families with children, babies in strollers, the
elderly, the disabled, hikers and cyclists - all enjoy the beautiful
walks of the park. The other two smaller promenades, on the south bank
of the river, also supported by JNF America, will soon be completed and
will link to the main promenade.
KKL-JNF with its Friends worldwide, has been working for years
together with Ministry of Ecology, the Beersheba Municipality and
Shikma Besor Drainage Authority, to restore the riverbed and environs
for the residents of the city and its visitors. Thousands of tons of
garbage have been removed from the river in a cleanup campaign as part
of the "Clean up the World" following which, over the last Tu BiShvat
holiday, Beersheba children planted hundreds of eucalyptus trees in the
park, irrigated with purified sewage water that comes from the Nevatim
During the World Marketing Conference recently
conducted by KKL-JNF, Itai Freeman, director of the Nahal Beersheba
Park project, described to the conference participants the progress on
the park development. "The 1250-acre metropolitan park is possibly the
most effective means of improving the quality of life in Beersheba, the
capital of the Negev. The river itself only flows during winter flash
floods when the park becomes a mini oasis in the south of the city.
Beersheba River Park is actually an environmental reclamation project
since, located on the site of a former quarry and garbage dump, it has
transformed the city's back yard into its front garden. The largest
project in the park - the central promenade - is already in full use
while another anchor project - the restoration of the historic Bet
Eshel - links ancient history to the history of modern Israel. The
artificial lake consists mostly of recycled water originating in water
projects funded by KKL-JNF. Other projects underway include Abraham's
Well, the Turkish Bridge restoration and the ANZAC project. The whole
park is a long term project, with a strategic plan extending to 2020.
Beersheba begins in the area of Tel Krayot at the border between Mount
Hebron and the Arad Valley. The river is about 50 kilometers long and
flows only during the rainy season. About twice each year it overflows
its banks as a result of flash floods. From there the river flows
southwest then west and drains the Arad Valley and the Beersheba
Valley, southward into the city of Beersheba itself and southwest along
the line of the dunes of Halutza and Hevel Habsor until it merges with
Nahal Habsor five kilometers east of Kibbutz Tze'elim. In ancient times
the river was a source of economic and social life for the city of
Beersheba and its surroundings but during recent years it had became
polluted and neglected until it was reclaimed and restored.
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Tel Beersheba is located where Nahal Hebron meets today's city.
A well-planned and walled city, erected on the Tel as early as the
first Iron Age, it was destroyed at the end of the 8th century B.C.E.
but was rebuilt during the Persian Era. During the Roman Period a
fortress was built on the tel and the city spread to the area that is
today the heart of the city. This is the national park of Tel Beersheba
that holds an ancient water facility of great importance and a scenic
promenade is now being constructed from the tel to the Naveh Zee's
The Turkish Bridge, amongst the most important and outstanding
monuments in Beersheba crossing the Beersheba riverbed next to the
Bedouin Market, is a remainder of an ancient bridge upon which the
Turkish railway was built. The railway, completed in 1915, ran from
Afula in the north via the Sinai desert to Egypt but two years after
the completion of the project the British blew up a large portion of
the tracks and bridges. This bridge was built by Jewish workers and is
approximately 190 meters long and the old train station is located just
north of the bridge.
Beit Eshel - In 1943 in the midst of the Second World War the
Jewish Yishuv (settlement) in the country decided to establish three
lookout points on KKL-JNF land in the Negev in protest against the
policy of the White Paper and to assess the feasibility of agricultural
settlement in the Negev on different types of soil. The settlements of
Revivim, G'vulot, and Beit Eshel were established east of Beersheba.
the moment they were established the three settlements also served as
departure points to populate the Negev - despite the difficulties,
mosquitoes, intolerable heat by day and the freezing cold by night. The
settlers attempted to work the land in any way possible - and many gave
up and left. The lookout points were built in a uniform pattern with a
square courtyard surrounded by a walls, watchtower, living quarters and
The name "Beit Eshel" originates from a Biblical story about a
tamarisk tree that was planted by Abraham in Beersheba. "And Abraham
planted a tamarisk (eshel) in Beersheba and he called upon the Name of
the Lord, the Everlasting God." (Genesis 21:33). A scroll encased in
the cornerstone of the first house in G'vulot reads: "Negev, open the
arms of your plains, your expanses - to the thirsty ground, because
today we are standing upon you to make a covenant of life and
creativity with you." The settlement was established by the "Yogev"
organization that included three groups of Youth Aliya from Germany and
Australia who were organized in the Shomron and who were joined by
groups of native Israelis and Romanian immigrants. The original group,
that numbered 40, belonged to the moshavim movement, and their
objective was to establish a moshav. They built buildings in the style
of a "castle" (an arched house) developed field crops, vegetable
gardens, cowsheds and chicken coops and planted trees and lawns.
certain point the settlers' families joined them and Bet Eshel became
the first community in the Negev where little children were living.
With the invasion of the Egyptian army in May 1948 the settlement was
besieged, shelled by the Egyptians and eventually, after continuous
battles it was destroyed. Its residents moved to the Jezreel Valley and
founded Moshav Yogev, leaving nothing at Beit Eshel except the trenches
dug in the shade of tamarisk grove. Today, as the site lies at the
outskirts of the city of Beersheba, it is difficult to understand how
isolated the settlement was at the time. The remains of the fortress -
the castle, the positions, communication trenches and tamarisk trees
remain as evidence of the pioneering project and heroism of the
the 1960's volunteers from the Beit Eshel Foundation began to restore
the remains of the settlement - the five-room building in which the
founders lived and the well. Thanks to contribution of JNF Canada the
historic Beit Eshel has been reconstructed and has now become one of
the main attractions of the Park.
The Bell Park - The Park, southwest of the city, has activity
centers for recreation and leisure, walking and cycling routes,
multi-purpose sports courts, an outdoor amphitheater, picnic sites and
playgrounds for children, youth and adults. An eight-kilometer
promenade leads out of the park, crossing the city from east to west.
These renovations were enabled through Friends of KKL-JNF in Montreal
and contributions from the Stanley and Barbara Plotnick family.
Abraham's Well - This ancient restored well, another project
supported by JNF America, is 13.5 meters deep, five meters of which are
carved out in rock. The well is filled from underground water that has
penetrated from the surface. According to tradition this is the very
well that our forefather, Abraham dug out although some have estimated
it to be only one or two thousand years old.
How to get there:
Tel (the Hill) Beersheba is located at the eastern part of the
city between Nahal Hebron and Nahal Beersheba and the road leading to
the Tel branches eastward from the Beersheba-Shoket Junction (Number
60) south of Omer.
Eshel is adjacent to the southern outskirts of Beersheba (Road 25) next
to the fences of Nahal Beersheba near the southern exit from the city
in the direction of Dimona two kilometers southeast of the city. The
lookout point can be reached from Shloshet HaMitzpim Street that
branches off from Sderot Yigal Alon, on road 25 north of the Emek Sarah
industrial area, a road marked with a green sign.
The Turkish Bridge crosses Nahal Beersheba opposite the Bedouin Market by the southern exit of Beersheba.
Abraham's Well is north of Nahal Beersheba, next to the Old City at the corner of Hebron Road and Keren Kayemet Street.
The Liberty Bell Grove is southwest of the city on the banks of
Nahal Beersheba, next to Abraham's Well and the Old City opposite the
visitors' center and adjacent to the Naveh Noy neighborhood.