Tel Goded seeks protection from off-road vehicles
After years of unsuccessful campaigns, Jewish National Fund and Israel Antiquities Authority decided to act and protect the archeological site at Britain Park from modern-day trespassers – lawless off-road drivers who trample thousands of years of history and natural habitat, and refuse to stick to marked trails
Bad news for the wild drivers of 4x4 vehicles that have ruined the southern region of Tel Goded: Soon all illegal roads leading to the mount will be blocked, in order to restore the archeological site and prevent illegal and destructive infiltration to the area by off-road vehicles.
Tel Goded is located inside Britain Park (about two kilometers northeast of Kibbutz Bet Guvrin). The archeological mount, known also as Tel Judeida ('New Mount'), was populated during the Bronze Age, and resettled as the Judea Kingdom spread to the plains. With the suppression of Hezekiah's rebellion by the Assyrians in 701 B.C.E., the settlement was destroyed, and later revitalized during the Hellenistic period and on through the end of the Byzantine period.
The total area of the mount is 30 dunams (approximately 7.4 acres), and in it one can find the remains of ancient buildings and a fortification line from the Roman period. There is also a secret cave, dating to the Bar-Kochva rebellion, which is astoundingly beautiful and composed of a system of caves connected by tunnels.
History lurks under every cave
After years of fighting lawless off-road drivers that had plowed the site with their wheels and destroyed it, the Jewish National Fund and Israel Antiquities Authority are now working to restore the site. As part of these activities, the roads leading to the mount will soon be blocked.
Adi Naalan, a JNF forester, explains that "although there are marked trails across Britain Park for off-road vehicles, including extreme tracks, some of the drivers prefer to climb up the mount trough other means. In recent years, the site has been suffering significant damage to the terrain and to the archeological artifacts. Israel Antiquities Authority estimates that some of the damage is irreversible."
Naali says he can't understand why drivers simply cannot enjoy the open terrain without destroying it. He appeals to the drivers to remain alert and follow the instructions of the park rangers and the signs to be posted in the coming days, as well as old notices warning not to stray off the marked trails. These will soon be shortly strengthened by bulldozers and groves that will block the access to the mount and to the forbidden roads.
The trees that will be planted near the barriers will fit in beautifully with upcoming Tu B’Shvat events, but they are intended to rejuvenate the flora and natural forest that were destroyed by the tire tracks.
"Drivers must realize that every time they stray off course, like when they head up the mountain, it is simply destructive. The park rangers patrolling the site will try to explain the urgency of the matter to the drivers. If necessary, enforcement and punitive measures will be taken," says Naali.
By the way, it is possible and highly recommended to travel by foot through this important site, where history lurks under every cave.