Top Sites of Israel’s Modern Journey

May 1st 2018

Israel’s modern journey has been a remarkable one. From the hardships under the British Mandate and the bravery of the underground movement through to declaration of independence and the consecutive wars for survival, the State of Israel has faced it all, and thrived.

The story of Israel in the 20th Century is a fascinating one and throughout the land there are a number of interesting sites which document some of the most momentous occasions in the country’s modern history.

We take tours to many of these places and below are just a few of our favorites.

Atlit Refugee Camp

The Atlit detainee camp, now a museum, is located 20 kilometers south of Haifa. The detention camp was established by the authorities of the British Mandate for Palestine to prevent Jewish refugees from entering pre-state Israel. Many thousands of Jewish refugees were interned in the camp between 1939 and 1948.

Today, the site is a museum and national monument. There’s a reproduction of the original camp including the barracks where detainees would spend their time. There’s also a fascinating exhibit telling the stories of the Jewish immigrants’ journeys and a history of illegal immigration to Israel.

Palmach Museum

The Palmach Museum is dedicated to the story of the elite fighting force of the Haganah, the Palmach. The group was an underground resistance movement during the period of the British Mandate for Palestine and would later merge into the new Israel Defense Forces.

The museum is situated in Ramat Aviv, a neighborhood in northwest Tel Aviv. Much of the museum is underground and houses a series of fascinating multi-media experience chambers showing the story of the Palmach and the part they played in the creation of the State of Israel. Some notable Palmach commanders included Yitzhak Rabin and Moshe Dayan.

Ayalon Institute

Located on Kibbutz Hill in Rehovot, the Ayalon Institute is a museum dedicated to the story of the secret bullet factory that was set up by the Jewish underground during the British Mandate. The ammunition factory was disguised as a kibbutz and remained hidden from discovery by British forces, who often visited the site.

Throughout its 3-year history, the secret bullet factory produced more than 2 million bullets and was central to the success of the Jewish resistance movement. Conditions were extremely harsh as most of the work took place below ground in loud, hazardous, and sweltering conditions. The museum (now nicely ventilated) tells the story of this amazing secret ammo factory.

Independence Hall

Independence Hall, located on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv, is the building in which David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel. It’s also where the signing of the Israeli Declaration of Independence took place, just a few hours before the British Mandate was due to come to an end.

The building is now a museum dedicated to this momentous event in modern Israeli history. Visitors can view original and reconstructed exhibits from the period detailing the 1948 ceremony, including information about the participants, the documents, the speeches, and also the events leading up to the declaration.

Ammunition Hill Museum and Memorial

The Ammunition Hill Memorial and Museum is located in Jerusalem on the western slope of Mount Scopus. It’s situated on the site of a well-known battle for Jerusalem during the Six-Day War in 1967. Thirty-six Israeli soldiers were killed in the fighting when they attacked Jordanian troops entrenched in an old British-built bunker system on the hill.

The fighting during this time led to the reunification of Jerusalem and the Ammunition Hill memorial is dedicated to the stories of those who lost their lives in the fight. The museum features reconstructed bunkers, pillboxes, and exhibits detailing the story of the battle for Jerusalem.