New park commemorates Australian military charge in 1917 in southern Israel

Australian and Israeli heads of state on Monday dedicated a park that celebrates the contributions of Australia's military to events that led to creation of the State of Israel. Major General Michael Jeffery is the first Australian governor-general to visit Israel. He and President Shimon Peres opened the Park of the Australian Soldier in the southern city of Beersheba to celebrate Israel's 60th anniversary. "The distance between Australia and Israel is far geographically, but morally we are very close," Peres said. He and Jeffery unveiled a sculpture commemorating the Australian Light Horse Brigade's famous World War I charge against Turkish forces in Beersheba. The battle was the beginning of the end for Turkish rule in the Holy Land. It cleared the way for Britain to sign the 1917 Balfour declaration that contributed to the creation of a Jewish state. At the park's dedication, young Israeli soldiers mixed with Australian veterans in full dress uniform as Governor General Jeffery praised the park for "permanently uniting Israelis with Australia."