The ANZAC Memorial, in the heart of Be’eri Forest, commemorates the ANZAC Australian and New Zealand soldiers who fell in the Third Battle of Gaza during the Great War (WWI) in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign to liberate this area from the Ottoman Empire. The monument overlooking the Gaza battlefields was designed in the shape of the letter A, the first letter in ANZAC, and viewed from a distance it resembles a horse’s head. Gaza was the site of some of the heaviest fighting during the First World War, with many ANZACS losing their lives, particularly in the battles that raged here in March and April 1917. It is for this reason that a permanent ANZAC war memorial was built at Kibbutz Be’eri in the northwest Negev, just meters from the Gaza Strip. The memorial is set appropriately in a eucalyptus forest (the eucalyptus is Australia’s most distinctive and widespread tree).
The First and Second Battles of Gaza in March and April 1917 ended in a stalemate had developed in Southern Palestine. The Third Battle of Gaza was fought on the night of 1/2 November 1917 between British and Ottoman forces. The British carried out an enormous land and sea bombardment. During the fighting, there were great casualties on both sides. Eventually, the EEF’s occupation of Gaza was not strongly resisted and a general advance during the morning of 7 November found the town abandoned. British artillery had destroyed all the homes, of the 40,000 people who had lived in Gaza before the war.
An ANZAC Museum is planned to be built in Beersheba to commemorate the Battle of Beersheba.
The JNF Beeri Forest is an rolling landscape of hills and fields in Negev. The forest includes the remains of British bunkers dug during World War II and abandoned sulfur mines.
The ANZAC Trail in the Negev
The ANZAC Trail starts at the Anzac Memorial (currently military zone), continues via Nahal Assaf, Shellal (Park Eshkol), Asluj (Park Golda), Chauvel Hill (Hashem-Zana near Nevatim) and ends at the WW1 memorial sites in Beersheba (Beer-Sheva). The track will be marked with plaques, lookout points, memorials and other sites of interest. It will be added to by guide book and maps, currently in preparation.
The Nahabir (Old Be’eri) Rest Area is located near the security headquarters, water tower and military positions of old Kibbutz Be’eri during the War of Independence in 1948. Nahabir Rest Area is accessible to the disabled. During the month of February, the forest grounds are carpeted with beautiful red anemones (Kalaniot – כלניות -poppy anemone). The Red Poppy is the official ANZAC Day flower of remembrance. ANZAC Day is 25 April.
Waltzing Matilda – in honor of the ANZAC forces