Further on, above the trail, we come to Command Posts 6, 7 and 8, which gave the ridge its name. These positions were occupied by the Harel Brigade in May 1948 and withstood attacks from Cannon Ridge (Rekhes HaTotahim, today Ayalon Park) for many long days. Command Post 8 on the Diefenbaker Trail was captured by the Harel Brigade in May 1948, while Command Post 10, some two kilometers away, was an Israeli position against the Jordanian Legion on Cannon Ridge in the Latrun area, right up until the Six-Day War. Some of the fighters manning the command posts were Gadna (“Youth Battalions”) youngsters from the Jerusalem Brigade.
The Turkish fort
At the end of the route, near Shaar HaGai (just north of the gas station), at Khirbet Harsis, there is a Turkish fort with a water cistern close by. This was just one of seventeen guard posts constructed by the Turks along the highway from Jaffa to Jerusalem, and it marks the end of our vehicle tour.
Another important site is the Shaar HaGai Caravanserai (khan), which lies on the south side of the entrance to the valley and can be accessed only from Route no. 38 from Beit Shemesh to Shaar HaGai. This caravanserai was one of the way stations built by the Turks at the end of the 19th century to provide accommodation for pilgrims traveling from Jaffa to Jerusalem. The building, which still retains part of its tiled roof, stands close by the side of the Tel Aviv to Jerusalem Highway, opposite the gas station. In 1869, part of the road adjacent to the site was paved to allow access for carriages and carts, and when the structure itself was built in 1873, it included a ground floor with stables, a bakery, a vaulted courtyard and an orchard, and served as a roadside hostelry where travelers could rest and recover before continuing their journey.