Wall and tower

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Nir David – Wall and tower (1946)
Kibbutz Hanita – Wall and tower (1938)
Recreation of Wall and tower in Kibbutz Negba

Wall and tower (Hebrew: חוֹמָה וּמִגְדָּל, translit. Homa u'migdal, lit. "wall and tower"), aka Tower and stockade, was a settlement method used by Zionist settlers in Mandatory Palestine during the 1936–39 Arab Revolt. The establishment of new Jewish settlements was legally restricted by the Mandatory authorities, but the British generally gave their tacit accord to the Tower and stockade actions as a means of countering the Arab revolt. During the course of the Tower and stockade campaign, some 57 Jewish settlements including 52 kibbutzim and several moshavim were established throughout the country. The legal base was a Turkish Ottoman law that was in effect during the Mandate period, which stated that no illegal building may be demolished if the roof has been completed.


The objective of these settlements was to seize control of land that had been officially purchased by the KKL-JNF,[1] so to have as much Jewish-owned land as possible populated by Jews, particularly in remote areas, by establishing "facts on the ground." These settlements would eventually be transformed into fortified agricultural settlements, and served for security purposes (as defences against Arab raiders) as well as creating contiguous Jewish-populated regions, which would later help determine the borders of the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine.

All of the major settlement groups (mostly kibbutzim and moshavim) took part in the campaign, which consisted of assembling a guard tower with a fence around it. While many of these settlements were not officially approved by the British Mandate authorities, existing settlements were not dismantled according to the Turkish Ottoman law still valid at the time. Due to the threat of immediate attack, at least as much as to any need of complying to the clauses of this law, the construction of the Tower and stockade settlements had to be finished very quickly, usually in the course of a single day.[2] What is less well known is the fact that the British authorities were rather lax at implementing restrictions against such Jewish activities at a time when their main security concern was the Arab revolt, thus wall and tower settlements were always created by day, not by night - against some still prevailing myths. In the very different political and security climate of the final months of the Mandate, a similar act of creating facts on the ground happened in April 1948 at Bror Hayil, when much of the work was indeed done during the night (more details at Bror Hayil page).[3]

The invention of the Wall and tower system is attributed to Shlomo Gur, founding member of kibbutz Tel Amal (now Nir David), and was developed and encouraged by the architect Yohanan Ratner. The system was based on the fast construction of pre-fabricated wooden moulds, which would be filled with gravel and enclosed with barbed wire fencing. In average, the enclosed space formed a yard of 35 x 35 metres (1 dunam). In the yard a pre-fabricated wooden observation tower and four shacks, providing housing for a "conquering troop" of around 40 people, was erected. The constructions were located within eyesight of neighbouring settlements and with accessibility for motor vehicles.[1]

57 were constructed between the last days of 1936 and October 1939.[4]

A model of a Homa u'migdal was constructed for the Land of Israel Pavilion at the 1937 World Exposition in Paris.[5]


Wall and tower settlements by date of establishment:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Rotbard, Sharon. Wall and Tower - The Mold of Israeli Adrikalut. In: Territories, KW - Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, 2003, p.162., ISBN 3-88375-734-9
  2. ^ Illana Shamir; Shlomo Shavit (December 1987). The Young Readers' Encyclopedia of Jewish History. Viking Kestrel. p. 79. ISBN 0670817384. 
  3. ^ Dana Adams Schmidt (April 21, 1948). "Big convoy fights way to Jerusalem". New York Times. p. 18. 
  4. ^ Segal, Rafi & Weizman, Eyal (editors) (2003) A civilian occupation. The politics of Israeli architecture. Verso. ISBN 1-85984-549-5. p.57 (Rotbard, Sharon. Wall and tower (Homa u'migdal). The mold of Israeli architecture).
  5. ^ Weizman/Rotbard. p.47

External links[edit]