BEIT SHEAN VALLEY
The case study area is the Beit Shean Valley which is part of the Jordan River Valley in the north of Israel. The area consists of two municipalities: The town of Beit Shean and the regional council Emek HaMaayanot (The meaning is: The Valley of Springs). Beit-Shean town population was 18,227 (in 2018). Its socioeconomic ranking is 5 (on a scale of 1-10, where 10 is the highest level). The Emek HaMaayanot population was 13,100 (in 2017), spread among 24 rural settlements, most of which are kibbutz type settlement. Its socioeconomic ranking is 6.
The Beit Shean Valley is a part of the Afro-Syrian Rift and opens westward to the Harod Valley and the basalt plateau of Ramat Issachar. The Gilboa Mountain Range closes the scenic landscape from the southwest and the Jordan River from the east. The town of Beit Shean is about 110 meters below sea level. As a result of its special location, at the tectonic axis that separates Africa, Asia and Europe, its bountiful water and food sources, its warm air, the valley is a global corridor for bird migration. The large amount of fish ponds spread across the area serve as a source of attraction to those birds. Thus bird watchers from overseas are attracted to the region to observe the flocks on their seasonal journeys.
The town of Beit Shean is one of the oldest in the Land of Israel. The archeological excavations of Tel Beit Shean reach back as far as the Early Chalcolithic period (5th – 6th millennium BCE). Some 3,500 years ago the city was captured by the Egyptians, followed by the Philistines. The town was repopulated as a Hellenistic city and given the name “Scythopolis”, followed by the Roman and Byzantine Periods. The town and its surroundings in the regional council contains numerous historical and archeological sites as well as national parks and natural reserves.
The region was consistently settled by Jews from as far back as the Roman and Byzantine periods. The recent pre-state era is characterized by the ‘Tower and Stockade’ settlement establishment, in the framework of which kibbutzim and moshavim settled the area. Beit Shean town was established in the early 1950s based on new migrants particularly form North Africa and the Middle East.