Following the Arab attacks on the Jews of the Land of Israel and on their property during the Arab Revolt (1936-1939) the British government appointed a royal commission to examine the situation. The purpose of the commission was to examine why the Arab Revolt broke out, how to make peace between the Arabs and the Jews and to examine the functioning of the British Mandate during the riots.
The commission’s report was published in July 1937 and recommended dividing the Land of Israel into two separate states – one Jewish and one Arab. The passage connecting Jaffa with Jerusalem would be under British control. The Jewish Yishuv was divided in its opinion. Ben Gurion, Weizmann and Golda Meir supported the division while Ussishkin, Tabenkin and Katznelson opposed it. The Arabs rejected it entirely. The partition plan of the Peel Commission caused the Jewish Yishuv to establish facts on the ground. They established 52 Tower and Stockade Settlements.
52 Settlements in One Night
Tower and Stockade is the name given to the operation in which 52 Jewish agricultural settlements were all established in one night during the Arab Revolt (1936-1939). They were established mainly in outlying areas, far from centers of Jewish settlement.
This dramatic establishment of settlements was a result of the Arab attacks against the Jews and the position of the British regarding immigration and settlement in the Land of Israel as expressed in the White Paper. The Jewish institutions built the settlements in areas in which Jewish settlement was forbidden. This lightning operation was carried out under the cover of darkness all in one night because of concern that the British would stop them and that there would be Arab hostility.
All the equipment that was needed was prepared in advance. The settlers had to complete the tower and stockade before the British army arrived and before armed Arab gangs managed to attack the settlers. On the night that they built the tower and stockade, they put up walls from wooden boards with a layer of gravel between them to protect themselves from enemy fire. They built shacks within the walls. They constructed the watchtower with positions for guards and a spotlight at the top. That is the source of the name Tower and Stockade. The organization and the building were carried out by the Haganah. Nevertheless, all the different streams in the Yishuv took part in the operation. Thanks to Tower and Stockade, the borders of the Hebrew settlement were expanded and important political and security goals were achieved.