Another of those delightful Cyclenix rides on Saturday 9 February
Drove in convoy along the coastal road, passed Ashdod, turning before Kiryat Malachi into Arugot (garden beds), an agricultural settlement established in 1949 by immigrants from Poland and Romania, containing an ancient Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age settlement Tel et Turmus.
Our 12 riders ride headed eastwards, seeing evidence of the recent saturating rains. We rode though peach groves in full pink and also in white blossom, the rich half-meter high wheat fields, alfalfa, humus and grape vines. The hilly area included olive trees reminding us of pastural Tuscany here our own Israel.
Through a muddy tunnel under the railway line to Be'er Sheva and highway #6 to a hill, the highest in the area, commanding a superb view of the coastal towns of Ashkelon, Ashdod, including Rehovot, Kiryat Malachi, Be'er Tuvia and Kiryat Gat. Also we could observe the kibbutzim/moshavim/kibbutzim of Kfar Menachem (Ussishkin) Gal-on, Yinon, Beit Nir, Luzit, Nahalah, Kedma and Timorim.
The ride was not for the timid, as most of the first 11 kilometers was uphill to the observation hill near Tel Zafit, then a enjoyable downhill sweep back to Arugot, totaling 30 kilometers. Our two relatively new female members were real contestants, never complaining and completing the ride - well done ladies.
The ride ended at the home of Tami and Eyal, daughter and son-in-law of Ted and Dina Silverman, who prepared coffee, tea, light drinks, and various cakes for all of us. Thank you very much for the hospitality, and to Eyal for his superb steermanship during the ride.
The History of this immediate region - Biblical
The ancient overland trade route from the Mediterranean to Mesopotamia passes through this area (not parallel and close to the sea as it is too sandy and swampy). The modern highway #6 follows this route.
The Philistine town of Gat "The Philistines assembled their camps for war...(they) were standing on the mountain on one side and Israel was standing on the other side, and the valley was between them. Goliath of Gat, his height six cubits and one span. He had a copper helmet on his head, and was wearing armor of mail; the weight of the armor was five thousand shekels. He had a copper shield on his legs and a copper neck-guard between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver beam and the blade of his spear weigh six hundred iron shekels." (I Samuel 17:1-7).
Tel Zafit (Blanchegarde), a Crusader administrative center is constructed in 1142 by King Fulk to control the road from Ashkelon to Ramle. The fortress is captured by Salah a-Din in 1187, recaptured by the Crusaders in 1192, to be captured again and destroyed by the Mamluks in 1244 who also capture Ashkelon in 1247.
War of Independence.
The Egyptian Army is unhindered by the British before they leave Palestine in 1948, invades Israel from Gaza heading along the coast . The Egyptians are defeated at Asdor (Ashdod- Ad-Halom) and at Jerusalem where they were stopped at Ramat Rachel. The Egyptian Army withdraws to the Faluga Salient in the modern Kiryat Gat-Ashkelon area.
In 'Operation Death to the Invader' the Negev Brigade cuts through Egyptian lines, surround Majdal (Ashkelon), creating a corridor, isolating the Faluga Salient and Beit Guvrin from the sea.
At Gal-on the IDF uses one of the two tanks in its possession, stolen from the British. The tank moves forwards towards the Egyptian lines, breaking down after only about 100 meters. The brigade was called armored for moral reasons, although in reality it only had a single tank company (later in the war, two companies), and a single APC company (these companies became the brigade's armored battalion), and an assault battalion composed of jeeps.
Before the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 this area was barren scrub, with very limited developed agriculture as the annual rainfall is only about 200mm a year. New Development towns are established at Kiryat Malachi and Kiryat Gat (steel, HiTech-Intel, etc), together with many kibbutzim and moshavim.
The construction of Highway #6 has encouraged regional economic development and subsequent resident construction in this area. Be'er Tuvia, a 1st Immigration village from 1887, attacked during the Arab riots in 1929, abandoned, reestablished in 1930, together with all the villages in this area has grown enormously in the passed decade, boasting many industrial zones creating job opportunities.
If you have any questions or want to get in touch for any reason, feel free to get in touch with David or John: