Photo: Haim Tzach, p
The Nature and Parks Authority inaugurated today (Sunday) in a solemn and exciting ceremony the national site Khan Sha’ar HaGai after it was renovated with an investment of millions of shekels and a new heritage center was established to commemorate the work of road scorers and convoys to besieged Jerusalem during the War of Independence.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the ceremony: “From that November, this November, we brought the State of Israel to great achievements. Half a year after 29 November 1947, the State of Israel was established. From an embryonic state, with which Arab states threatened to sever the thread of its life, we turned Israel into a regional power, with which Arab states made peace alliances.
” Furthermore, we have turned Israel into a global technological power, which all the countries of the world respect. Based on the legacy of the past, we continue to cultivate our national power: in security, peace, economy, country building, transportation, energy, science, yes also in health – with the millions of vaccines we bring to Corona. “
Netanyahu added: “The spirit of the pioneers of Jerusalem, the spirit of the Palmach warriors, of the brave pioneers of the soul – this spirit that allowed us to face every difficulty and challenge, this spirit continues for us sometimes. And from today, this spirit will dwell within these stone walls – “In the restored Khan. Everyone who sees the exhibition will learn, wait, and most of all be inspired by this glorious chapter in the history of our people and country.”
According to the Minister of Environmental Protection, Gamliel revealed, “We have an important historical task ahead of us, not only to perpetuate the legacy of the battle – but also to educate future generations about the values that the pioneers inherited from us in this place. This site will ensure that we never forget their names, their heroic deeds, and their immensely important contribution to the establishment of the state.
” Seventy years ago, the fighters broke through the path between the Arab enemies to reach Jerusalem. Today, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is paving the way for building new alliances with Arab countries in the region and leading us to a new reality. “As the prime minister travels to visit their countries – we are waiting to see leaders and visitors from these countries ascend through Sha’ar HaGai for visits to the capital,” said Gamliel.
The Minister of Jerusalem and Heritage, Rabbi Rafi Peretz, said: “We have a huge commitment to the pioneers of Jerusalem, moral, Zionist and value-based. Students and youth movements that will learn and connect to this important heritage. “
Shaul Goldstein, director general of the Nature and Parks Authority, said, “For me, this ceremony is a kind of very exciting closing of the circle. My father, the late Yerachmiel Goldstein, was one of the caravans on the way to Jerusalem during the War of Independence and even accompanied Nabi Daniel’s convoy to the besieged Gush Etzion. As a child, I absorbed the heroism of the warriors and witnessed the burglars’ monument a few months before the Six Day War.
” Today, November 29, the day the United Nations declares the establishment of a home for the Jewish people, here in our beloved country, it is my honor, as the Director General of the Nature and Parks Authority, to lead the process that led to the opening of the Heritage Center to those heroes from all denominations and exiles, soldiers from all Fighting organizations for the establishment of the state and citizens, boys and adults, women and men, sabras and inferno refugees in Europe, some of them a last resort. Today, one can admit, thanks to them, Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, “he added.
The decision to dedicate the national site Khan Sha’ar HaGai, which was announced decades ago (79), to the memory and work of the scorers of the besieged road to Jerusalem during the War of Independence, was made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about three years ago.
Since then and in accordance with this decision, the Nature and Parks Authority has begun promoting comprehensive infrastructure and development work that included completing and arranging a parking area and walking trails for visitors, strengthening and renovating buildings, landscaping and establishing an impressive and experiential heritage center with special representatives and content tailored to its purpose. This is led and financed by the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage and in collaboration with the content staff of the Nature and Parks Authority, the Palmach Generation Association and their families, as well as Breeze Creative, which specializes in establishing visitor centers and was selected to carry out the project.
The new heritage center allows visitors to be exposed and get to know up close and in an experiential and powerful way the heritage of the battles on the way to Jerusalem and the story of the brave Palmach fighters together with the caravan escorts, some civilians, who broke through to besieged Jerusalem.
The visit to the Heritage Center continues along 5 main stations, including an opening presentation and video of warrior testimonies, a road station, a wireless station, a supply station, an experiential station that simulates an armored vehicle traveling to Jerusalem during the war, The activity at the stations is partly interactive through disks that are distributed to each visitor at the entrance, and at the end they are also used to select a value that is important to him, which will hang on the values board on the site.
It should be noted that the solemn ceremony for the inauguration of the site and the new visitor center has already been performed out of consideration and respect for the brave and older warriors and warriors who are still alive and eagerly awaiting its launch as a heritage site that perpetuates their story. At the same time, the site is expected to be open to visitors only from January to February, when all the work and preparations required to absorb the audience will be completed. The visit to the site will require prior arrangement due to the nature of the tour and entry to it will be paid.
The story of the Valley Gate and the Khan
Sha’ar HaGai, also known by its Arabic name “Bab al Wad”, on the road leading from Jaffa to Jerusalem was for many years before the establishment of the state and during the Independence Day war an important strategic axis by being a topographic bottleneck surrounded by ridges. Thanks to its characteristics, the Arabs who ruled the area before the war managed to place ambushes and hit the supply convoys of the Jewish community on the way to besieged Jerusalem. During the War of Independence, a decision was made among the commanders to gain control of the area to prevent these attacks and the goal was achieved thanks to the Palmach fighters who led the fighting.
The khan at Sha’ar HaGai and the Road Fortress were built at the end of the 19th century when the khan served as a roadside inn for pilgrims on their way from Jerusalem to Jaffa. The buildings in Khan Sha’ar HaGai have been declared a national site since 1979. Over the years, only armored vehicles could be seen there, a reminder of the battles of the Israeli systems and it did not receive many visits, among other things due to transportation problems.
Following the government’s decision to dedicate the place to the memory and work of the scorers of the besieged road to Jerusalem during the War of Independence, the required budget was achieved and the goal and the way to upgrade the site and establish the visitor center were marked.