by Yael Adar
This is an exact replica of the first Stockade and Tower settlement, Tel Amal, which saw its beginnings on December 10, 1936. This first of its kind settlement (raised literally within a day) subsequently became the model for 57 settlements established between 1936-1939.
Located in the Beit Shean Valley (the natural continuation of the eastern part of the Jezreel Valley), it was established by pioneers who had lived in nearby Kibbutz Beit Alpha.
These were the days of rising attacks on Jews that signaled what would become three years of riots (known in Hebrew as Me’oraot) beginning in 1936. A decision was made that more settlements had to be established in Jewish areas (particularly in border areas) and that the total number of settlers had to be increased significantly.
The element of surprise in erecting new settlements was crucial. Much preparation was involved and the new settlements were erected with the help of settlers from the whole area. Tel Amal and the additional subsequent Stockade and Tower settlements were built of pre-fabricated wood and were surrounded by a double wooden defense wall that was filled with gravel (to withstand bullets).
The size of the fortified settlement was just 38 x 38 yards (35 x 35 meters). Here you can see what life was like for the pioneers in the post-tent era. The tower at the center of the settlement had a dual purpose as a lookout post and for communication purposes.
In this reconstructed settlement you will be able to see the tower, the small living quarters with period furniture including beds covered in mosquito netting (as protection from malaria which was rampant at the time). In the communal dinning hall you can view a 15-minute audio-visual program about the riots (in English, Hebrew, Russian or German). Period clothing is available on site and apparently one of the things visitors enjoy most is dressing up in pioneer clothes and having their picture taken.
Groups can even order ‘pioneer meals’, and experience not only what the food of the day was like, but what the simple plates and utensils of the day were like. Meals are said to be quite good and include, vegetable salad, pickles, olives, humous “Palmach Potatoes”, Stockade and Tower chicken legs (or beef), an assortment of fresh fruits, and coffee or tea.
Tel Amal (modern day Kibbutz Nir David) is located on the banks of the Amal Stream in the Gan Hashlosha National Park (see related tip).
Within the Gan Hashlosha/Nir David complex there are a number of attractions that you can see separately or as a package. These include Gan Garoo Park Australia-Israel, Museum of Regional & Mediterranean Archaeology, and an Ancient Flour Mill (which is currently being renovated). One could easily spend more than a day just seeing all the sites here.
It is also possible to hold special events (including evening events) which can include a conversation with an English-speaking pioneer, or a special performance by actors.
Directions: The Tel Amal Stockade and Tower at is located at Gan Hashlosha National Park off Route # 669.
Visiting Hours: Sunday – Thursday & Saturday 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM, Friday (by prior arrangement only).
Entry fees apply.