Mitzpeh Gevulot (“Gevulot Lookout”) is one of three observation points established in the Negev by KKL-JNF in 1943; the others are Revivim and Beit Eshel, and all three were constructed in response to the severe restrictions imposed by the British Mandate upon Jews in the Land of Israel. Jewish settlement was forbidden even on Jewish-owned land, and the lookout points were established in order to test the response of the Mandatory government and investigate the feasibility of agricultural settlement in the Negev. Visitors to the site will observe that the building was constructed from mud bricks, the material commonly used for such observation points. They can also view the diamond-polishing plant that formerly operated at the site and hear fascinating tales of what befell residents of the lookout. The site likewise recounts the history of the water pipe that served as a lifeline for residents of the Negev in 1948.
The site offers a variety of activities including a guided tour along the Field Trail. Tours should be coordinated by telephone with the Gvulot tourist staff ahead of time at 08-9987914 or 054-7919000.
After we finish our visit to Gvulot, we can return to the Field Trail and continue our journey westwards. Around 4.1 kilometers from the Mitzpeh Gvulot junction, a small acacia tree can be seen standing out against the surrounding farmland to the left of the road. After another 3.1 kilometers we come to another junction. To the north of the junction, among the many tunnel-shaped greenhouses, we can spot the roof of an old building with two rounded corner porches that stick out like the ears of some fabulous creature. To reach it, we turn right at the junction and drive for about 300 meters before parking and walking to the right in the direction of the building, which is situated some 400 meters distant from the road. This is the abandoned guardhouse of the old Mivtahim site. We may have to dodge around a little among the greenhouses in order to locate the building, which tends to disappear from view every so often, despite the fact that it is taller than the greenhouses that surround it.
The Mivtahim guardhouse
On February 7th 1947 Kibbutz Mivtahim was established at this site by the Oved HaZioni (“Zionist Worker”) movement. This isolated community survived throughout Israel’s War of Independence, and on one occasion challenged the might of the British army. On April 22nd 1948 a British military force drew up in front of the kibbutz and demanded its members hand over an Arab truck that had been captured complete with its contents. When the kibbutzniks refused to open the gates, the British soldiers responded with tank fire and six shells hit the guardhouse, killing kibbutz member Haim Fischer. The British did not withdraw from Mivtahim until the evening.
After the war the kibbutz members decided to evacuate and join forces with members of Kibbutz Nitzanim. In 1950 a group of new immigrants founded Moshav Mivtahim some three kilometers to the northeast of the original site. Now, only the abandoned guardhouse, scarred by shells and bullets, remains as a silent witness of those early days, peeping out shyly from amid the sea of greenhouses. The time has now come to accord it the respect it deserves.
The end of the road
We now have two options for the conclusion of our trip along the trail. We can continue straight on northwards and come out onto Route no. 232 next to Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak, or we can return to the junction we left and journey westwards for about 3.5 kilometers following the black trail markings that lead us to Route no. 2200 adjacent to Moshav Prigan.
If we want to end our journey at the Woodland Recreation Area (Henion HaHursha), where we shall find picnic tables and drinking water, we continue straight on for 2.3 kilometers. When we come to the crossroads with Route no. 2211 we continue for another half kilometer until we come to the entrance to the recreation area to the left of the road.