In April 1948 the Gesher settlement withstood an attack by the Arab Legion. In May of that year it had also the face an Iraqi attack. Three old bridges are visible at the site, as well as an old British police station, historic railway tracks, and an old Khan (inn) from the Middle Ages. There is an audio visual reconstruction of the old Naharyim power plant complete with water, music.
The Gesher site offers a unique insight into the foundation of the state of Israel. It tells the story of the establishment of Jewish settlements from the nineteenth century and during the War of Independence.
Close to the old settlement the Jordan and Yarmuk Rivers meet. A unique agreement with the Emir Abdullah of Transjordan was made in 1927. It enabled Pinchas Rutenberg, founder of the Palestine Electric Company, to build the company’s main power station at nearby Naharayim (two rivers).
The agreement gave the PEC (which later became the Israel Electric Corporation, Ltd.), rights to use 6,000 dunams of land under Trans Jordanian control. As part of the project three dams were built. In 1932, the Naharayim plant began supplying electricity on both sides of the border, until it was blown up in 1948. It remains in Jordanian hands to this day. The waterworks are still a point of contention between Jordan and Israel. Each country claims the entire dam complex and surrounding territory.
In 1948 the when settlement of 120 people came under attack 50 children had to shelter in a six by two metre bunker, for 30 hours until they were eventually evacuated in the middle of night. They walked for four hours to a nearby settlement and were later taken to safety, in an abandoned monastery in Haifa. The original settlement of Gesher was destroyed.
The bridges and Khan are visible but not accessible. The oldest of the bridges is a Roman bridge that is about 2000 years old. Another bridge, known as the Train Bridge, is a Turkish bridge built in 1904. It was one of the largest bridges of its era at that time it served the train from Haifa to Damascus. The British built the third bridge in 1925.
Naharayim was inaccessible for 46 years and it is also worth visiting the Island of Peace but this must be booked in advance. The area is operated by kibbutz Ashdot Ya’acov and according to the 1994 peace agreement between Israel and Jordan, “the area is under Jordan’s sovereignty with Israeli private land ownership rights.”
Location: Jorda Valley, near the current kibbutz Gesher. Off Route # 90 roughly half-way between Tiberias and Beit Shean.
Tel: 04 675 2685, 04 675 8783
Sunday: Thursday 10:00 – 16:00
Friday: 9:00 – 13:00
Saturday: 10:00 – 1600
Adults 22 NIS
Children (6-13) 16 NIS
Senior Citizens 18 NIS
For reservations to the Island of Peace: Tel:04 670 9143