BEERSHEBA: A major city in the Negev desert in southern Israel, Beersheba was occupied during World War I by the Turkish army, which built a rail line from Gaza during 1915. The train system was in active service until 1917, when the British forces, along with Australian and New Zealand soldiers, forced the Turks out of the region. The Beersheba battle on October 31, 1917, was considered an important one in the overall campaign in the Sinai Desert and Palestine. Around 500 Australian Light Horse soldiers, carrying only bayonets, charged at the Turkish trenches and captured them. The action was seen as the final success of a cavalry charge in the history of the British military. Following the war, a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery was constructed, containing dead from Britain, Australia and New Zealand, as well as a memorial park. The British reconstructed the railway, although continuing tensions regarding ownership rights on Palestinian land led to many Jewish residents leaving the city by the end of the 1930s.

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