|Region||Beit She'an Valley|
|Founded by||Hanoar Haoved Movement and immigrants from Germany.|
Gesher (Hebrew: גֶּשֶׁר, lit. Bridge) is a kibbutz in the Beit She'an Valley in northeastern Israel. Founded in 1939 by immigrants from Germany, it falls under the jurisdiction of Valley of Springs Regional Council. It is situated 10 km south of kibbutz Deganya Aleph and 15 km south of Tiberias. The population is approximately 500 inhabitants. It is named after the neighbouring bridge over the Jordan river ("gesher" means bridge in Hebrew), known as Jisr el-Majami' in Arabic and as Gesher Naharayim in Hebrew. The original site of the kibbutz, abandoned after the 1948 war, is known as Old Gesher.
The kibbutz was founded in 1939 on lands bought with the help of Edmond de Rothschild, by a group of Jews born in Palestine who were members of the youth movement HaNo'ar HaOved and a group of young Jews from Germany. They were later joined by Jewish immigrants from Poland, Germany, Austria and additional Palestinian Jews. The kibbutz grew up near the Naharayim bridge as a Tower and stockade settlement.
The site of the kibbutz was a khan from the Mamluk period to the late 18th or early 19th century. Called Jisr el-Majami' (bridge of the meeting), it was one of the earliest khans in the Galilee and was a major crossroads where the north–south Bet She’an–Damascus road intersected the east–west road which led from the Gilead through the Sirin Plateau. Some of the original kibbutz buildings lay within the ruins. There are three bridges at the site - a Byzantine stone bridge, an Ottoman railroad bridge serving the Haifa-Dera'a segment of the Hejaz Railway, and a British Mandate road bridge serving the Haifa-Baghdad highway.
1948 Israeli-Arab war
On 27 April 1948, the Haganah took control of the Gesher police station, a Tegart fort that had been evacuated by the British. The Arab Legion, still under British control at the time, ordered them to evacuate it. Haganah refused and both troops exchanged fire during 3 days until the Arab Legion was ordered by his HQ to return to their barracks.
Starting at 15 May morning, during the next 7 days, the settlement and the neighboring Tegart fort were attacked by Iraqi forces, using armored cars and aerial bombing. The defenders repulsed the Iraqis, inflicting heavy losses, but the kibbutz was destroyed during combat. After the 1948 Arab-Israeli War the settlement was moved about 1 km to the west.
During the War of Attrition between 1967 and 1970 the kibbutz was attacked with bombs, mines and gunfire by PLO Arab Palestinian fighters. In the 1990s it underwent a privatization process, preserving the collective model only in the areas of education, health, culture and leisure.
After the peace agreement between Israel and the Kingdom of Jordan, the kibbutz established a museum on the original site of the kibbutz that documents the history of Gesher and the Jewish-run power station of Naharayim.
- Abdullah Mokary and Zvi Gal (2005). "Khan Gesher (Jisr El-Majami‘)". 'Atiqot 50: 195–207.
- Yale’s Urban Design Workshop building bridges to the first peace park in the Middle East, YaleNews, June 9, 2014 
- David Tal (31 January 2004). War in Palestine, 1948: Israeli and Arab Strategy and Diplomacy. Routledge. p. 202. ISBN 978-0-203-49954-2.
- Benny Morris (1 October 2008). 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War. Yale University Press. p. 247. ISBN 978-0-300-14524-3. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gesher.|
- Imanuel Reuveni - Lexicon of Holy Land - Eretz Israel Lexicon (Leksikon Eretz Israel - in Hebrew) Yedioth Ahronoth - Chemed Books Publishing house, 1999.
- Yuval Elezri (ed) - lexicon Mapa - Eretz Israel (in Hebrew) - Maps Concise Gazetteer of Israel Today 2003, Tel Aviv MAP Mapping and Publishing.