>  Private tour of Jaffa and Tel-Aviv   >  Israel’s Independence Hall

Located in the heart of Tel Aviv, the Independence Hall (or Beit Ha’atzmaut in Hebrew) is significant landmark. Here, the Jews declared independence in the Holy Land on May 14th, 1948. This is possibly the most imporant event in Israel’s modern history.

Historical Background

The longing for the Land of Israel has passed through generations among the Jews. “Next year in Jerusalem” is a centuries-old Jewish blessing, expressing the yearning to return to the Promised Land and rebuild Jerusalem. Following the Spanish expulsion in 1492 CE, some Jews settled in the Holy Land, but conditions under Ottoman rule were very harsh. Only in the late 19th century the Zionist movement institutionalized the Jewish settlement of the  Holy Land. Following the British Conquest of the region, the 1917 Balfour declaration seemed to support of this goal. Yet, the British authorities demonstrated quite the opposite in the following years. Moreover, the local Arab population repeatedly attacked both Jewish and British targets, clarifying their wish that both should leave.

After World War II, Great Britain decided to clear the region of Palestin. On November 1947 the UN recommended to split the Holy Land between the Arabs and the Jews. The Jews accepted the partition plan, but the Arab world rejected it. A war broke out.

The War of Independence and the Hall of Independence

In the first half of 1948, the region of Palestine witnessed several clashes between Jews and Arabs. However, both waited till the British evacuated all their forces, which was scheduled for May 15th. The United States assessed that if a war broke out, the Jewish population would not survive it and could be massacred. Being so, they pressured the Jewish leadership to refrain from any radical political declarations. Ben-Gurion, head of the Jewish Council at the time, estimated that the Arab world would attack in any case, and this is a historic opportunity not to be missed. A State must be declared

Where and When?

The Jewish leadership made a decision – a Jewish state will be declared a few hours before the British left. To best secure the event they voted to conduct the event at Tel-Aviv’s Art Museum on Rothschild Boulevard.  For security reasons, they sent the invitations only a day earlier, asking the members of the Provisional State Council to keep the exact time and place a secret.

Declaring the State

As planned, on May 14th, at 16:00, Ben-Gurion entered the building and read the Independence statement from a scroll. The attendees signed it, and a Rabbi recited the Shehecheyanu prayer (A Jewish blessing of thanksgiving). Next, an Orchestra played the “Hatikva,” the anthem. The ceremony took 32 minutes with Ben-Gurion’s concluding statement, “Long live the State of Israel. This meeting is adjourned“.

The following day, Egyptian warplanes bombed Tel Aviv, and in the following months, the Jews battled fiercely against 6 Arab armies. 6,000 Jews died in the 1948 Israeli-Arab war, and tens of thousands injured. But the Jews declared a state.

Touring the Hall of Independence

Since 1978, the former Art Museum building has been devoted solely to the declaration of the State of Israel. The interior of the ground floor hall has been restored. A devoted staff leads guided tours at the site, combining its explanations with event recordings. The tour is an exhilarating experience, transporting the visitors to feel they are attending the event.

A tour of the Hall of Independence can be integrated into a guided day tour of Jaffa and Tel Aviv.

[In 2019, the municipality closed the building for a complete makeover. In the meantime, visitors can appreciate a detailed presentation of the State of Israel declaration at the adjacent Shalom Meir Tower Visitor Center.]

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