Tel Gama (Gama Hill)

Tel Gama, which is the third signposted site on the ANZAC Trail, looms over the southern bank of the Besor Stream (Nahal Besor), one of the largest streams in the Negev and the largest river basin in Israel that flows into the Mediterranean Sea. This area of the wadi is known in Arabic as Wadi Ghaza, and was known to the ANZAC cavalry by the same name.
The upper tributaries of Nahal Besor drain the mountains of Hebron and the Sde Boker area. During the battles for Gaza and during the preparations for the conquest of Beersheba, the Brisitish army established their line of outposts on the banks of the Besor Stream. British lookouts and signaling teams were stationed on the top of the tel, which overlooks the plains that surround Gaza City, and sent messages to the troops in the field. At the foot of the hill the British built a reservoir and a field hospital that treated the wounded from the Second Battle of Gaza.
The Turks entrenched themselves opposite them, on the northern bank of the river.

The ancient road to the Gaza port passed through Nahal Besor. Tel Gama is identified with the Canaanite city of Yarza (also pronounced Araza), which was situated on this main trade route during the Chalcolithic period (4th century BCE). In the eighth and seventh centuries BCE, Tel Gama was the center of Assyrian rule. It seems that during the Hellenistic period, the settlement moved to the area surrounding the tel, whereas the tel itself was used as a harvesting center for the wheat that was grown in the Besor region's fertile plains.

The stream itself gets flash floods that are so intense that the section of the tel closest to the river has been swept away and no longer exists. Therefore, one must be very careful when hiking to the top of the mound.

The view of the western Negev plains from the top of the tel is spectacular. The ANZAC trail signage there displays photographs and depictions of the role horses and camels in the campaign. Convoys of camels laden with water and equipment trekked day and night to bring supplies to the fighters at the outposts along Nahal Besor.

To get there: Drive south on route 232 and pass by Kibbutz Re'im. Continue past Re'im Junction for another 400 meters and turn right on a dirt road, and follow the signs to Tel Gama. There is parking by the southern slopes of the tell, where there is an explanatory ANZAC Trail sign.