• Issue: March 1963
  • Designer: P. Kor
  • Plate no.: 73 - 74
  • Method of printing: Photolithography

Stockade and Tower

"Tower and Stockade" period is a remarkable chapter of daring and determination in the annals of Jewish pioneering. 1936 to 1939 were troubled years for the small Jewish community of Palestine, which was subject to the crippling economic and land restrictions imposed by the Mandatory government, and to continuous hostile attacks from terrorists.

Under cover of night marauding Arab bands would set fire to outlying farms and fields; orchards were uprooted and pipes and wells damaged. The Yishuv's answer to this challenge of destruction was construction - the building of more and more settlements throughout the country. The erection of these settlements was a triumph of planning and organization; each "Tower and Stockade" settlement was built within a day. During twenty-four hours a bare patch of ground was converted into a secure encampment surrounded by a wooden stockade, with a searchlight playing from the high watchtower in the center, offering protection from guerilla bands. A member of Kibbutz Massada, which was built in March 1937, describes the feverish preparation involved in such a planning: "A double wooden wall filled with sand so thick that no bullet could penetrate it, a fourteen-meter tower with a projector on top, a dynamo, a double barbed-wire fence, and within this fort three cottages for the members, a dining room, and a kitchen ... and all this had to be completed within one day. Materials, men, machinery, lorries.... the head whirls, but some inner voice whispers: 'We shall accomplish it!" The pioneers of the "Tower and Stockade" days created irrevocable political and economic facts. In the words of one of the settlers: "Although the soil had been paid for long ago, it was still not ours. Only when we are settled upon it, we feel that we are safe."

Nir David was the first of the "Tower and Stockade" settlements. Its establishment marked the beginning of the revitalization of the once fertile Beisan valley which, during centuries of foreign rule, had degenerated into a marshy wasteland. In this period the map of Jewish settlement was altered considerably: Clusters of settlements appeared in the fertile Hula valley, in the hills of Ephraim, and on the plains of Acre. Simultaneously settlement began in the western areas of Upper Galilee and elsewhere.

On March 21, 1938, the ascent to Hanita, high in the lonely wooded hills of Western Galilee, took place. The lorries that brought the equipment for the new settlement could not climb the rocky terrain. Over 400 volunteers, some settlers from other villages, others city workers from Haifa, carried the tents and building materials on their backs. Within twenty-four hours Hanita was erected. On the very first night the new village fought off the attack of Arab marauders. The settlers continued at their posts and Hanita - created out of the "blood, sweat, tears" of Israel's pioneers - remained to serve as the spearhead of the liberation of Western Galilee.

During the years of 1936 to 1939 a network of 55 "Tower and Stockade" settlements spread from Dan in the north to Negbah in the south. These settlements played a decisive role in the difficult economic, political, and military struggles that followed.

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25 Years Agricultural Settlements