Plugat HaKotel Museum

Members of the Platoon of the Wall

Movie and display at the site

General Info

Plugat HaKotel Museum

Platoon of the Wall (Plugat Hakotel)

“Whoever controls the Old City will rule the entire country” (Journal of the Platoon of the Wall, Uri Zvi Greenberg).

What happens when a group of young Betar youth activists, Zionists, decide to establish a protection system for the residents of the Jewish Quarter and Old City against the Muslims and the British?

Who are the brave and strong Platoon that agreed to risk the lives of their friends for blowing the shofar on Yom Kippur?

The story of the Platoon of the Wall is a Zionist story about the settlement and the importance of Jerusalem. Today there are two movies that tell the story of the life of the Platoon of the Wall, from the blow of the shofar and the confrontation with the British in the Old City, to everyday life and the connection between the activists.

The film depicts the events in a fascinating way in which the Platoon resides and exposes us to new stories and for the first time brings the story of the Platoon – a story that was almost forgotten in the history of the Jewish settlement in Israel. Outstanding heroic story of extraordinary warfare against the British mandate in order to maintain the tradition and connection between the Jewish people and the Western Wall.

History

The Old City of Jerusalem, where Jews, Muslims and Christians live, has always been a place for calamity. From the beginning of the British Mandate, the Arabs harassed the Jews, and in 1920-1921 as well as in the 1929 riots, the Jewish Quarter was attacked. The entire country was subject to political pressure on the Mandate government, but the Old City also had a religious aspect and its aim was to reduce the Jewish community there. At the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Jews were the majority in the Old City, but with the migration to the new city, the Jewish Quarter declined and the living conditions in the Old City were severe, overcrowding, and everyone who could moved to the New City and the Jewish Quarter. Only the weaker layers of the people stayed in the Old City

In early 1937, with the frequency of attacks on the Jews of the Old City by Arab rioters, it was decided to establish one of the Betar companies (Betar, the “Joseph Trumpeldor Hebrew Youth Alliance”, the youth movement of the Revisionist movement) and increase the security of the residents of the Jewish Quarter. Members of the company worked for a living during the day, and in the evening engaged in military guarding and training in the Irgun. The members of the Platoon did all kinds of work: quarries, building, paving roads and even guarding.

The girls went out to work in households and waitresses. At night, the safety of the Jews who used to pray at the Western Wall was taken care of by them.

At the end of 1937, the Platoon had 24 members (including six girls), who rented one of the houses in the Jewish Quarter. The presence of the Platoon in the Old City increased the security of the Jews and protected them from the Arab attacks. Occasionally, members of the Platoon were even involved in gun fights.

 

In December 1928, the Mandate government banned the shofar from being blown at the Western Wall, after the Arabs complained that the shofar violated Islamic holy sites. Betar and the Irgun never come to terms with this decree, and every Yom Kippur, a volunteer was found to blow the shofar.

The existence of the Platoon of the Wall was cynical in the eyes of the British authorities. Police officers searched the Platoon and wouldn’t allow members to raise the national flag on their house and forbade them to go in large groups of more than three people. Even with these efforts it still upset the Arabs and constituted a provocation. The police even tightened control over the members’ moves and in mid-1938 several of them were arrested and after an investigation were released. Finally, police officers arrived to the home, and removed the belongings, cut off the electricity, locked the house and hung a sign stamped with a wax seal stating: “By order of the district governor, the house is banned under the emergency laws.”

This brought to an end the existence of the Platoon of the Wall in the Old City.

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