A farm field of crops background image with Save Ein Habesor text over it.

By Todd Lamphere
This op-ed was first published in The Messenger.


Israel is running out of time to save a critical harvest.

It has gone largely unnoticed in the fog of war that has enveloped the Holy Land since the Hamas terror attacks on Oct. 7. There’s an urgent need to restore the vital agricultural region of Ein HaBesor, often called Israel’s breadbasket, and get it up and running again.

I recently witnessed this looming agricultural disaster first-hand while visiting the economically strategic enclave this past week. It stands just three miles east of Gaza, on the edge of the Negev desert.

Crops needing attention.

There, I saw row after row of crops needing immediate attention. Little harvest activity is taking place as the war continues, and both Arabs and Israelis are already enduring the consequences.

About 60% of the Jewish nation’s grain and produce comes from this tiny region. Food prices for Arabs and Jews alike will likely increase throughout Israel, and food insecurity could be the inevitable result.

Mentioned in the Old Testament, this once-desolate region is where the future King David and his troops rested before routing the Amalekites. After the Camp David Accords in 1978, Jewish refugees who gave up their homes in the Sinai to make peace with their Egyptian neighbors settled in Ein HaBesor to make a new life.

Through hard work, persistence, and innovative irrigation technology, Ein HaBesor’s new caretakers managed to claw back arable land from the desert. Over time, it was transformed into a fertile agricultural breadbasket serving the entire region.

Today, Ein HaBesor is home to about 320 families and more than 1,100 residents. Most of the residents were forced to evacuate as soon as the Hamas attack was repelled. Now they’re living internally displaced in hotels, primarily in Eilat and throughout Israel.

During my mid-November visit, this tight-knit community appeared largely abandoned except for security and maintenance personnel. I was on a fact-finding mission on behalf of a unique coalition of four faith-based nonprofits, led by CityServe International. My assignment was to determine what will be required to get Ein HaBesor operational again.

Torn Israeli flag.

I soon saw that surviving the terrorists’ attack at all was a testament to the resourcefulness and determination of these people — and perhaps a work of providence.

Several seemingly random decisions enabled Ein HaBesor to repel the Hamas attack. It turns out people living here had experienced a series of unrelated, random thefts in the months preceding the surprise assault. In response, Ein HaBesor leaders had beefed up their security team and begun conducting regular security patrols along the perimeter. That’s how the residents detected the invaders immediately on the fateful morning of Oct. 7.

So, instead of finding a sleepy agricultural village ripe for assault, the terrorists were greeted by a hail of gunfire. Although armed with only five rifles and a couple of handguns, these courageous Israelis were determined to defend their families and their homes. And defend them they did.

The battle that followed claimed the lives of many attackers. Several residents were wounded. But incredibly, Ein HaBesor repelled the Hamas terrorists without a single loss of life from among their community.

Damaged caused by Hamas Terrorists.

Apparently stung by the resistance, the attackers moved on in search of more vulnerable, defenseless victims. Tragically, they found them.

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During our recent visit to Israel, we spoke with the families of Ein HaBesor. Watch this video as they share what happened to them on October 7th.
They simply ask, “Please, don’t forget us.”


On our recent trip, my colleague and I shared many tearful embraces with those standing guard at Ein HaBesor. You could tell it meant a lot for them to hear from their American visitors, “We support you, we stand with you, and we’re here to help restore this place you call home.”

Now, as the crops lie wilting in the Negev’s unforgiving sun, the four partners in this faith-based initiative have agreed to combine forces in the important task of saving the breadbasket of Israel.

As a united coalition, we have adopted Ein HaBesor as our “sister city.” We’re launching an ambitious plan to get them what they need — clothes, medicine, even equipment. No effort will be spared to help restore normalcy to this unique corner of the world that plays such a strategic role in feeding people of the region, regardless of nationality.

Will Ein HaBesor ever recover its idyllic identity as the remote breadbasket of Israel? It’s hard to imagine families wanting to leave their homes again to sow crops, wondering whether an Iron Dome missile will be able to intercept a rocket that flies overhead.

But if they don’t recover, who will feed the people in the region?

Family united in Ein HaBesor.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers. But for now, our coalition just wants the people of Ein HaBesor to know that Americans are here for them in their hour of need. We don’t know how long it will be until life returns to normal in the region, but we’re committed to be with them until it does.