Shai Scenic Lookout Inaugurated in Nahal HaBesor

Tuesday, February 03, 2015 11:09 AM

A new scenic lookout in memory of Shai Dayan in the Besor region offers a breathtaking panorama that spans from Gaza and Beersheba to the Judean Lowland and the Hebron hills. 

The new scenic lookout commemorating Shai Dayan was dedicated at a moving ceremony on Thursday, January 29, 2015, in the Miluim (army reserves) Forest in Nahal Habesor, located in the Western Negev.

Shai Scenic Lookout in Nahal HaBesor. Photo: Tali Balilius

In this tranquil and magical place, beneath an ancient tamarisk tree, relatives and friends of Shai Dayan, and representatives from the Eshkol Regional Council and KKL-JNF gathered, all of them stirred by the green landscapes and the red anemones that are now blooming all over the desert and also on the way to the scenic lookout.

Anemones on the way to Shai Scenic Lookout. Photo: Tali Balilius

“This place, Shai, is yours. Here, on the highest hill facing the panoramas and plains that are all dressed up today in your honor, visitors will get a different perspective, your perspective. Shai, how does it feel to be the highest and the most prominent, while deep in your heart you are simple, modest and natural?” These words were spoken by Iftah Magen at the ceremony, who had been a close friend of Shai, and who had helped the Dayan family locate the site in Nahal Habesor where they would commemorate their son.

The Shai Scenic Lookout is only 90 meters above sea level and only a few meters above the western bank of the Besor ravine, but despite these unpromising conditions, the modest observation point has a view that spans from Gaza to Beersheba, including the wheat fields of Kibbutz Nirim, the hills of the Judean Lowland and the hills of Hebron. From the lookout, one may also view the raptors that frequent the creek.

The unique, panoramic sign installed at the site, with illustrations by Shalom Geveler, describes the view in detail. A special bench has also been installed, from which the entire landscape can be seen.

Boaz Kretschmer from the Eshkol Regional Council, the man who connected the Dayan family with KKL-JNF, thanked the family and KKL-JNF, and complimented the KKL-JNF landscape architect, Zohar Tzafon. “I must admit that every time I argued with him and wanted to add something, he always ended up being right. This scenic lookout is noteworthy for its beauty, its simplicity and its harmony with the location and with nature.”

The Dayan family, modest like their son, chose to have only a few words about Shai written on the sign, “A son of Moshav Dekel, who loved this stream.”

Shai Dayan OBM. Photo Courtesy of the Dayan Family.

Shai Dayan, who was especially tall (2.03 m), died suddenly nine years ago from cardiac arrest while playing basketball, which he liked so much, with his team, Hapoel Nitzanim. He was only twenty-eight. Shortly before his death, he graduated from Sapir College, where he had studied computer science and information systems, and began working for the Motorola Company. He was survived by Shira, his wife of only one and a half years, by his parents, Yochi and Udi Dayan, and by his siblings, Edut, Roi and Eli.

His friend Yiftah spoke about his character and his worldview, “that special point of view that does not impose on its surrounding, that does not try to change it, but adapts, accepts and balances it, always with gentleness, benevolence, generosity and unconditional love.”

“Six months have passed already since Operation Protective Edge,” said Haim Yellin, Head of the Eshkol Regional Council, “and, as in the song, the wheat is again growing, but the wheat also makes us forget the tanks and the dust that were here for such a long period of time. In this locality, the Eshkol Regional Council, Zionism is alive and kicking.”

“The people at KKL-JNF are turning our small land into a country that is pleasant to be in, to go hiking, to spend time in natural surroundings,” said Michael Ben Abu, KKL-JNF Director of Fundraising  in Israel, who emceed the opening ceremony.

Yochi Dayan by the panoramic sign. Photo: Tali Balilius

Shai’s mother, Yochi Dayan, described the war waged by David and Amalek in the Besor Creek as recounted in the book of Samuel I, chapter 4. “As people who live near Nahal Habesor,” she said, “we also know the sounds of battle and the tidings of victory, but tidings of floodwaters flowing in the stream, which happens in good winters, would be enough for us. May we have many good tidings about water.”

As the ceremony ended, participants exchanged recollections from the days when they lived in Yamit, before they founded Moshav Dekel, and enjoyed the view from the scenic lookout and the wealth of information on the sign. Some of them proceeded to go on a hike to the Harari Recreation Area, which is a short distance from the Shai Scenic Lookout.
About the Area:

View of the Besor from the lookout. Photo: Tali Balilius

Nahal Habesor, which is 80 km long, begins in Ramat Avdat, near Sde Boker. The tributaries of the stream, which include Nahal Hevron and Nahal Beersheva, drain the mountains of the Negev and the rainy expanses of the Hebron Hills. The Besor Stream has a huge drainage basin covering an area of 3,600 square kilometers and is the largest catch basin of a stream flowing into the Mediterranean Sea in Israel.

KKL-JNF started planting forests in the Besor ravine in the late 1950s. The assorted species of trees include tamarisk, eucalyptus, acacia, carob and a few indigenous species. There are older trees in the forest, too, which were planted in the time of the British Mandate. In 2006 the forest was named the Reserves Forest (the Miluim Forest) in recognition of the reserve soldiers of the IDF.
Directions to the Forest and the Shai Scenic Lookout:
From Highway 241, turn right to the Miluim Forest, about 1 km past the Urim junction and a little before the Maon junction. Farther on along the Scenic Road, on your right, you will see the Harari Recreation Area, and on your left is the road that goes to the Shai Scenic Lookout.

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