During June–July 2011, a salvage excavation was conducted at ‘En Besor (‘Ein esh-Shallala) within the precincts of the Eshkol National Park (Permit No. A- 6208; map ref. 151750/579780). The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Jewish National Fund, was directed by N. Shaul, with the assistance of Y. Al-‘Amor (administration), O. Shmueli (safety), G. Seriy (antiquities inspection), D. Varga (guidance) and A. Yehuda (Eshkol National Park director). Considerable assistance in understanding the site was rendered by N.S. Paran.
The hill is located near ‘En Besor, c. 20 km east of Gaza. The site was discovered during the First World War, after an ANZAC force of Australian and New Zealander soldiers conquered the hill from the Turks. The soldiers discerned a mosaic floor at the bottom of a trench the Turks had dug and reported it to their superiors. The mosaic was dismantled in several pieces and sent to Cairo and then to Australia, where it is today on display in the war memorial museum in Canberra. To date, no archaeological excavation had been conducted hill; however, an inscription in the mosaic had shown that it paved a church, which was built in the year 622 according to the Gaza calendar, or 561–562 CE.
A single excavation square (25 sq m, depth 0.5 m) was opened beneath the floor of a circular observation post built of concrete and stones that was cast on the hilltop in the 1970s. A layer of sand (thickness c. 0.1 m) was found below the concrete level, overlaying fill of wadi soil and small pebbles (thickness c. 0.2 m), which was deposited on sterile soil. Several probe trenches were dug with the aid of a backhoe (max. depth c. 2.5 m). No finds were discovered in the square or the probe trenches, except for a dressed building stone that was exposed directly beneath the layer of fill in a probe trench, cut in the northwestern part of the excavation.
The excavation on the hill showed that no finds remained on the hilltop, other than part of a building stone. It seems that following the removal of the mosaic floor and before the construction of the concrete circle for the observation post, the area was leveled and all the archeological remains were obliterated.