Wall and tower

Reconstruction of tower and stockade in Kibbutz Negba

Tower and Stockade (Hebrew: חוֹמָה וּמִגְדָּל‎, translit. Homa u'migdal, lit. "wall and tower") 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.


During the Arab Revolt, these settlements provided safe havens on land that had been officially purchased by the KKL-JNF,[1] protected Jewish populations, particularly in remote areas, on these Jewish-owned land and maintained "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.[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 (see Russian-language article here [1]). 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). Within this protected yard, the pre-fabricated wooden observation tower and the four sheds sheltering the initial 40 settlers were 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]


Tower and Stockade settlements by date of establishment:


See also


  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
  6. ^ Israel Foreign Affairs: PM Olmert's Speech at the Mishmar HaCarmel Ranch Events, November 3, 2015
  7. ^ "Jabotinsky, Vladimir" in Encyclopaedia Judaica, 2d edition, volume 11, p. 14

External links