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Tel Hai Review
Perched on the northern edge of Kiryat Shmona is Tel Hai, meaning "hill of life," which played an important role in Israel's history. In the aftermath of World War I, while Britain and France bickered over control of the upper Hula Valley, bands of Arabs often harassed the Jewish farms, and finally overran Tel Hai in 1920. Only Kibbutz Kfar Giladi was successful in defending itself.
Following this incident, Tel Hai resident Josef Trumpeldor and seven comrades were called on to protect the place. Trumpeldor already had a reputation as a leader in the czar's army in his native Russia, where he lost an arm fighting. Fired by Zionist ideals, he had moved to Palestine in 1912 at the age of 32. During the final battle in 1920, Trumpeldor and his comrades were killed and it is for them that Kiryat Shmona—City of the Eight—is named. It is said that Trumpeldor's last words were: "It is good to die for our country." He is buried up the road from the museum, beneath the statue of a lion.
The heroic last stand at Tel Hai was important not only because it was the first modern instance of Jewish armed self-defense, but also because the survival of at least two of the Jewish settlements meant that when the final borders were drawn by the League of Nations in 1922, these settlements were included in the British-mandated territory of Palestine and thus, after 1948, in the State of Israel.
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