Ha-Palmach Cave

December 2nd 2010

The Palmach (an acronym for the Hebrew words plugot macḥatz, meaning strike forces) was part of the Haganah, the underground Jewish army of pre-State Israel that later became part of the Israel Defense Forces. Establish in May 1941, the Palmach was the most prestigious fighting corps of the Haganah.

Well-hidden in the midst of a forest at Kibbutz Mishmar Ha’emek lies a large cave that once served as a training site for two units of the Palmach. Palmach members hid in the cave while they invented ingenious tactics for warfare, raids and counter-attacks against the British and Arab armies.

The cave is also the location of a major Palmach battle. In 1944, an Arab commander sought to occupy Kibbutz Mishmar Ha’emek in an attempt to capture the city of Haifa. Nearly 600 kibbutz members were killed, half of them children, but eventually, the Arab army was forced in retreat by the Palmach.

Visitors today are introduced to the history of this elite fighting unit, how they trained and what ideas animated their heroism. Screen a short film about the history of the Palmach years. Secret weapons and equipment that were used by Palmach members are on display. During your tour, don’t miss the observation point at the top of the volcano. From there, you’ll be able to see into the Jezreel Valley, the Galilee and the Menashe Forest. Learn about the ethical code developed by the Palmach that informs the way Israeli soldiers are trained today, including the values of dedication, friendship, never abandoning fellow soldiers who are injured on the battlefield and the famous “Follow me!” cry of commanders.

Other activities at the site include nostalgic nights of camp fires, songs and fascinating stories of Palmach battles and bravery. When booked in advance, gourmet dinners around the camp fire can be combined with team building workshops.

Combine your visit to the Ha-Palmach Cave with a short walking tour among the trails of the Menashe Forest. Take on the nearby rope park challenge, including the climbing wall. Ask your guide about special activities that help impart the spirit of the Palmach to children.