HaMasrek Reserve: A Nature Trip Near Jerusalem
Updated: May 6
I am happy to share another trip that I took during Sukkot, this time a much shorter excursion and closer to home. I went with a friend, two of her children and my daughter.
I chose this reserve because we the trees on site are evergreen and I wanted a nice shady course. This year the holidays were celebrated a month earlier because of the Hebrew calendar leap year so it is still quite hot.
The nature reserve has a clearly marked circular pathway that takes about 2 hours to complete.
HaMasrek means 'The Comb' in Hebrew. The nature reserve was named 'The Comb' after the pine trees that grow densely at its peak like the teeth of a comb. A Palmach training group who lived in Givat Brenner and went on patrols in the area are probably responsible for the name of the reserve.
The hilltop of the reserve was also marked on the maps of the Palmach and Haganah fighters as strongpoint no. 17 during the Independence War. An Arab village called Beit Machsir was located where the reserve is today and was a battle site during the Independence War. The position of the ridge enables us to understand how easy it was for the Arabs of the area to hit convoys that passed through the narrow wadi on the road to Jerusalem. 'The Comb' was captured by the Palmach Harel Brigade during the War of Independence in Operation Maccabi as part of their attempt to seize control of the ridge that controls the road to Jerusalem. A description of the battles appears on the sign posted in the reserve.
Also, within the reserve, you can see a tomb of the Sheikh Ahmad al-Ajami. The place was used as a place of prayer and the nearby residents of Beit Mahsir were buried nearby. Thanks to the tomb, the grove of pine trees remained intact and some of the trees are around 200 years old. Parts of the structure collapsed in recent years, and as of December 2015 the building is fenced and can not be accessed.
In addition, remains of defensive trenches and concrete bunkers at the summit near the tomb of the Sheikh. These were built by the nearby settlement of Beit Meir during the Sinai Campaign of 1956 for perimeter protection in case of need.
There are a number of nearby locations. I'm happy to recommend a few as follows:
Our trip took half a day. I've placed it on the map between Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem for your convenience.
That concludes my trips during Sukkot. I hope you enjoyed yourselves too!
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