Yehi'am dining hall
|Founded by||Hashomer Hatzair Nahal Members, Hungarian Aliya|
Yehi'am (Hebrew: יְחִיעָם) is an Israeli kibbutz in the western Upper Galilee, 8 miles east of the coastal town of Nahariya and 14 miles south-east of the border with Lebanon. Yehi'am is located some 365 meters above sea level, and is under the jurisdiction of the Matte Asher Regional Council. As for 2015, Yehi'am's population counts 450 residents, of which 150 are kibbutz members.
Kibbutz Yehi'am was founded on November 27, 1946, by 50 members of the Zionist-socialist Hashomer Hatzair youth movement, who transformed the ruins of an Ottoman castle built on top of Crusader remains at Khirbat Jiddin into a military training camp. It was named after Yehiam Weitz, son of Zionist leader Yosef Weitz, who was killed on the "Night of the Bridges", a Palmach operation on June 16-17, 1946. The British Mandatory authorities assisted in the kibbutz establishment, despite it being against official British policy.
On January 20, 1948, 200-300 troops of the Arab Liberation Army's Second Yarmuk Regiment based in Tarshiha attacked Yehi'am, armed with mortars, machine guns and rifles. The force surrounded the kibbutz from all sides and blocked all the access roads. A platoon of British soldiers exchanged fire with the Arab regiment, which withdrew and tried to attack again the following night but was repulsed by a reinforcement of Haganah fighters. 
On March 27, 1948, a Haganah convoy was sent to bring supplies to the kibbutz which was besieged by Arab forces. The Yehiam convoy, consisting of five trucks and an armored car, was ambushed by 250 Arabs near Al-Kabri. The incident was reported on March 29 in The Scotsman:
- "The second ambush occurred at Kabri, near Naharia, seven miles north of Acre. Here the bodies of 42 Jews were found near five burnt out lorries. It is stated that in this action a column of six Jewish lorries were ambushed by 250 Arabs who were armed with rifles, two inch mortars, and light machine guns. The column, escorted by an armoured car, was attacked an hour before sunset on Saturday night. A British flying column was sent to relieve the Jews but failed to reach them, it is reported. British artillery then opened fire with 12-lb and 25-lb high-explosive shells, and the Arabs withdrew."
The founders of Kibbutz Yehi'am lived in tents among the ruins. A small kitchen provided meals with airlifted supplies. They were highly visible to the Arab troops stationed on the hills, who subjected the fortress to heavy fire. Communication with the outside world was through bonfires, flashlight signals and pigeon posts to Nahariya and Kiryat Haim. Yehi'am members worked the land, growing vegetables, grapes and peaches.
During Operation Dekel the Israeli army conquered and depopulated the Bedouin village of Khirbat Jiddin on July 10-11, 1948. Several operations later, the entire Galilee was eventually taken by Jewish forces during Operation Hiram in October 29–31, 1948.
After the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, new houses were built, including the first children's house. Hashomer Hatzair groups joined from different parts of Israel, as well as Aliya of that same movement from Cuba, France, Uruguay, Argentina, Mexico and Colombia.
A sweets factory was one of the first industries in Yehi'am. In addition, the Kibbutz had a large variety of agriculture branches such as bananas, citrus, avocado, dairy farming, chicken coop, pigsty, fish farming, wheat, cotton and corn, and a large tobacco crop. As for 2015, Yehi'am's agriculture is largely based on bananas, avocado, citrus, field crops and chickens.
Yehi'am Fortress National Park features an Arab fortress built in the 18th century by Zahir al-Umar on and around the remains of a smaller castle dating back to the Crusader era, and which was occupied later on by Bedouin tribes when it was called Khirbat Jiddin.
In 1969, Yehi'am established Deli-Yehiam, a kosher meat factory specializing in beef and chicken cold cuts. In 2006, the company developed a new series of products including pastrami with pistachio, red peppers and olives, which was also marketed at retail chains and kosher delis in France. Its exports to Europe totaled $10 million a year.
In the early 1990s, Yehi'am built Teva BeYehiam, a 60-room Crusader-style guest house at the foot of the castle.
- Israel and the Palestinian Territories, Rough Guides , Rough Guides 1998 p.235.
- U. Milstein, History of Israel's War of Independence, Vol III, University Press of America, pp. 46-47.
- Haim Levenberg,Military Preparations of the Arab Community in Palestine, 1945-1948, p.193.
- The Scotsman, Monday 29 March 1948. Reporter: Eric Downton
- Meron Benvenisti, Sacred Landscape: The Buried History of the Holy Land Since 1948, University of California Press, 2002 pp.302-303.
- Delicatessen co Yehiam to export to France: Deli has developed a series of new kosher products for the French Jewish community
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