Places in Israel to Learn More About the Haganah and Palmach

March 9th 2020

The Palmach Museum

Prior to the establishment of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in 1948, the Jewish population of Palestine (the yishuv) had to rely on local defense groups to keep themselves safe. After the Arab riots in 1920, an underground military organization was formed which became known as the Haganah. 

The Haganah protected Jewish settlements against Arab riots, attacks, and revolts. It also worked with the British authorities during World War Two, against potential Nazi invasion of the Holy Land. It was during this time that the Palmach was formed, which became the Haganah’s special striking force. 

During and after the War, the organization supported continued Jewish immigration to the Holy Land and actively demonstrated against British authorities, before eventually taking more decisive action. 

The Haganah and Palmach were central to the independence of Israel and its survival from a multi-pronged attack in 1948. The organization then became the bedrock for the formation of a regular army of the State – the IDF.  

If you’d like to learn more about the amazing history, stories, and sacrifices of those who served in these organizations, then we recommend visiting the following places when touring Israel: 

The Hagana Museum

Situated in central Tel Aviv on Rothschild Blvd, the Hagana Museum is on the site of Eliyahu Golomb’s home. Golomb was one of the founders of the group and the de facto commander. It was the secret HQ of the organization from 1930-1945 and many of their most fateful decisions were made here. 

Today, the house is a fascinating museum dedicated to the history of the Haganah, featuring actual documents from the time, photographs, and multimedia presentations. 

The Palmach Museum

The Palmach Museum is located in the northern part of Tel Aviv, just north of the Yarkon River. The museum, a stone’s throw from the Yitzhak Rabin Center, is dedicated to the history of the Palmach, the Haganah’s elite striking force. 

Although only in existence for seven years, the group’s activities and bravery became legendary. As such, a visit to this museum is an experience, in more ways than one. Actors tell the stories and portray the lives of typical Palmach soldiers while numerous multi-media rooms go into detail about the group’s activities and the challenges faced. 

The Bullet Factory

During the struggle for independence against British rule, the Haganah and a clandestine weapons manufacturer built a secret underground bullet manufacturing plant. For three years, dozens of men and women created two million bullets for use in Palmach military activities. It was never discovered. 

Today, it’s a museum. The Ayalon Institute Museum is located near to the central Israeli city of Rehovot and is well worth a visit. 

Ha-Palmach Cave

In a forest near Kibbutz Mishmar Ha’emek, in the western Jezreel Valley, is a famous cave. The Ha-Palmach Cave was once a training site of the Palmach, where they would prepare ingenious warfare tactics against both Arab and British threats. 

It’s also near the site of a tragic massacre, where an Arab force in 1944 sought to occupy the area on the way to take Haifa. Six hundred settlers were killed. Today, the cave is a museum dedicated to the Palmach and features numerous artifacts and exhibits which tell the stories of their activities and bravery. 

Akko Prison

During the British Mandate, hundreds of resistance fighters from all of the underground groups were imprisoned in the Citadel of Akko (in Acre just north of Haifa). First built in the 12th Century, the British used Akko Prison as a secure place to keep Jewish resistance fighters, including members of the Haganah, Etzel, and Lehi. 

Today, the Akko Prison museum, as well as detailing the history of the site, also serves as a memorial to the sacrifices of the Jewish underground fighters.