top of page

Naharayim at Gesher in the Beit She’an Valley between Degania and Beit She’an shows a short movie and a large working model of the first hydroelectric power plant built during the British Mandate at nearby Naharayim (the Two Rivers), subsequently called the Isle of Peace. The Isle of Peace in Jordan can no longer be visited. The defense of Kibbutz Gesher during the 1948 War of Independence is described. You can also view the three bridges across the Jordan River and partially cross the Turkish bridge. Usual tours are directed at Israelis, but the guide can provide information in English and the two movies can be viewed with English subtitles.

Directions: Enter “Naharayim at Gesher” into Waze and click on “נהריים בגשר.”

Time: A tour lasts about 1½ hours.

Admission details: The site is open Sunday to Thursday 9.00 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday 9.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m. and Saturday and holidays 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. Viewing the site in the context of a tour is advisable rather than on one’s own. They take place at 11.00 a.m. and 12.30 p.m. on weekdays. There is an admission charge. Call 04-675 2685 to check on the times of tours and their availability in English. This is their website.

 Public transport: Enter "נהריים בגשר" into Moovit. There is a bus line between Beit She'an and Tiberias. The site is a 1.2 Km/15-minute walk from the closest bus stop at Kibbutz Gesher.

Roman bridge.jpeg

Mamluke bridge built on Roman foundations

     Do you find my website interesting and helpful?

Then you are sure to love my two new books "In and Around Jerusalem for Everyone - The Best Walks, Hikes and Outdoor Pools" and "The Struggle for Utopia - A History of Jewish, Christian and Islamic Messianism". Both books are available on Amazon and in Jerusalem bookstores. Click on each of the titles for information, reviews and purchase information.

Kibbutz Gesher and the 1948 War of Independence

Kibbutz Gesher was founded in 1939 at a strategically important location by the Jordan River. The importance of this location can be gauged by the fact that three bridges cross the Jordan River at this point – a Roman/Mamluke, Turkish and British bridge. You will see these bridges during your tour. The Turkish bridge was built in 1904 for the Hejaz Railway that connected Haifa and Damascus and ended in Mecca and Medina. The British bridge was built during their Mandate for the Haifa-Baghdad highway. Both these bridges were rendered non-functional by Kibbutz Gesher during the 1948 War of Independence.


The Roman/Mamluke bridge was repaired following Israel’s peace agreement with Jordan, and you can walk halfway across it - but do not go all the way or you will find yourself in Jordan. Close to the Turkish bridge are ruins of a fortified khan, first constructed in the 14th century for trade caravans and to protect the bridge. The British Taggart police post was constructed during the Mandate period and protected the British bridge.


Kibbutz Gesher began as a tower and stockade settlement built by a Yishuv youth movement and immigrants from Germany and other countries on land purchased with the help of Baron Edmond de Rothschild.


During the War of Independence, the Haganah took over the British police station after it was evacuated by the British. In April 1948, the kibbutz refused the Jordanian Arab Legion’s demand to evacuate, and its 150 members were attacked. An exchange of fire lasted for three days before the Arab Legion gave up. More threatening was an attack by Iraqi forces in May 1948 with armor, artillery and air power. A demolition expert together with some kibbutz members undertook the dangerous task of destroying the bridges to prevent the Iraqis from crossing the river. The kibbutz succeeded in repulsing the attack with only light weapons, and the Iraqis retreated after 7 days. This victory prevented Arab forces from severing the connection between settlements south of the kibbutz with the north of Israel. However, the kibbutz buildings were destroyed. After the war, the kibbutz moved to higher ground, one kilometer to the west of its original location on the other side of the main road. 

During your tour you will visit the Large Shelter. This was a hastily made underground bunker constructed during the War of Independence that became the center of the kibbutz’s activities during the Iraqi siege.

Pinhas Rutenberg and his hydro-electric power plant at Naharayim


Wherever Pinhas Rutenberg found himself he was in the thick of the action, and often in important leadership roles. He was a visionary, and in Palestine at least he was able to bring his ambitious plans to fruition. To describe all his many activities is beyond the scope of this article, but these are some of the highlights, particularly as they relate to the power plant at Naharayim.


Rutenberg was born in 1879 in what is now the Ukraine and which was then part of the Russian Empire. While studying in the Technology Institute in Saint Petersburg, then the imperial capital of Russia, he became active in the Socialist-Revolutionary Party in Russia and played an active role in the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917.


Forced to emigrate after the first Russian Revolution, he moved to Italy in 1906 and studied hydraulic engineering. He then moved to Palestine. When the First World War broke out, he appreciated the importance of the Jews in Palestine having an army and he and Ze’ev Jabotinsky and Joseph Trumpeldor formed the Jewish Legion. While in the US promoting his ideas, he cofounded the American Jewish Congress. He also completed designs for the use of hydraulic resources for irrigation and generating electric power for Palestine. 


He was back in Russia for the Revolution of 1917 in leadership roles, but was imprisoned by the Bolsheviks. After being released, he made his way to Palestine in 1919 via France. Determined to carry out his ideas for generating electricity, while in Paris he presented his ideas to Baron Edmond de Rothschild. This was exactly the type of industrial project the Baron was interested in and he promised him financial support.


When he arrived in Palestine, he established the defense organization the Haganah together with Jabotinsky and served as the chief officer of their forces in Tel Aviv during the Arab hostilities of 1921.


He founded the Jaffa Electric Company and its first electricity-generating plant was built in Jaffa. It was diesel fueled and provided electricity to Jaffa, Tel Aviv and neighboring settlements. He subsequently founded the Palestine Electric Corporation that eventually supplied power to all of Mandate Palestine, with power plants in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Tiberias, and eventually Jerusalem.


His most impressive achievement in power generation was building the first hydro-electric plant in the Middle East at Naharayim, at the confluence of the Jordan and Yarmouk Rivers. However, Naharayim was not in Palestine, but on the other side of the River Jordan in Jordan. This needed coordination at the highest political level, specifically from its king Emir Abdullah. The difficulties were resolved and 700 pioneers completed a 14-meter-high dam and other dams, a 300-acre artificial lake for storing water, and a 300-meter-long pipe for bringing water to the turbines. Completed in 1932, it provided power to both Palestine and Jordan.

The power plant ceased functioning from the time of the 1948 War of Independence when the building was occupied by Iraqi forces.


Fast forward to 1994 and the peace agreement with Jordan when it was agreed that Jordan would have sovereignty over the 1,000-dunam island that had been created, although Israel would have a renewable 25-year lease for use of the land. This land was used by Kibbutz Ashdot Ya’acov. Israelis could cross the border and visit the site without a visa or passport just by showing their Israeli ID card. The lease ended in 2019 and the Jordanians refused to renew it. This was the end of the Isle of Peace as a tourist site. All that remains of the memory of Naharayim for Israelis is Naharayim in Gesher. 

Ottoman bridge.jpeg

Bridge for the Hejaz Railway built by the Ottomans in 1904.

Kitchen in the large shelter.jpeg

The kitchen in the Large Shelter used during the Iraqi invasion.

movie about power plnat.jpeg

Movie about Pinhas Rutenberg and his power station projected in the model room.

Model of the power plant.jpeg

Model of Rutenberg's hydro-electric power plant.

polics fort.jpeg

The British police station at Gesher.

Crossing bridge.jpeg

You can cross the Roman/Mamluke bridge, as it has been repaired. But go no further than halfway, or you will find yourself in Jordan!

Links to the HOME PAGE and best family activities, hikes and historic sites in the GOLAN, EASTERN GALILEE, UPPER GALILEE, LOWER GALILEE, JORDAN VALLEY & LAKE KINNERET, the SHEFELAH, TEL AVIV-YAFFO and surroundings, NORTH of TEL AVIV, and SOUTH of TEL AVIV.

bottom of page