Hebrew transcription(s)
 - Hebrew מְטֻלָּה
 - ISO 259 Mṭulla

Metula is located in Israel
Coordinates: 33°16′44″N 35°34′28″E / 33.27889°N 35.57444°E / 33.27889; 35.57444Coordinates: 33°16′44″N 35°34′28″E / 33.27889°N 35.57444°E / 33.27889; 35.57444
District North
Founded 1896
 - Type Local council
 - Head of Municipality Herzel Boker
 - Total 9,413 dunams (9.4 km2 / 3.6 sq mi)
Population (2008)[1]
 - Total 1,466
Defensive Position
Safari Disaster Memorial site

Metula (Hebrew: מְטֻלָּה‎‎) is a town in the Northern District of Israel. Metula is located between the sites of the Biblical cities of Dan, Abel Bet Maacah, and Ijon, bordering Lebanon.


Early history

Traces of ancient settlement have been found here, including wine presses and a mosaic pavement.[2] A tomb excavated in 1967 contained at least four graves dating from between the late third century and the late sixth century.[2]

In 1816, the traveller Buckingham visited "a large village, called Metully, altogether inhabited by Druses".[3] In 1875, Guérin described Methelleh or Metelleh as a village with a spring, occupied by Druses from the Hauran who cultivated a garden to the east.[4] Soon afterwards, the Survey of Western Palestine recorded "El Mutallah: A small village, built of stone, containing about 100 Druzes, situated on slope of hill, near a large stream, surrounded by arable land."[5]

Founding of the Jewish moshava

When the Druse Rebellion of 1895 broke out, the men of Mutallah joined its ranks. Since the women were not able to cope with the work, the owner of the land, a Christian from Sidon named Jabur Bey, sold 12,800 dunams of land to Baron de Rothschild's chief officer Joshua Ossovetski.[6][7] It had been inhabited and cultivated by more than 600 Druze tenant farmers. When the Druse Rebellion was put down, the men returned and demanded their tenancy rights back.[7] Ossovetski called in the Turkish authorities, who came to arrest the Druse as deserters and rebels, while Ossovetski offered them paltry compensation to leave the land.[7] However many were unsatisfied and eight years of feuds and violent clashes ensued.[7] Eventually an agreement was reached between the villagers and the Jewish Colonization Association in 1904 for an additional payment of 60,000 francs (3,000 Turkish pounds).[7][8][9] This episode brought much criticism of the methods of Rothschild's agents, including some from other Zionists such as Ahad Ha'am.[7][9][10]

Early pioneers and Mandate period

The Jewish settlement was founded in June 1896 by 60 farming families from more established settlements and 20 families of non-farming professions. Most of the founders were immigrants from Russia. Pioneers (halutzim) from Petah Tikva also joined in settling Metula, as did some scholars from Safed.

At the end of World War I, Metula was in the area of French military occupation.[11] The 1920 boundary agreement between Britain and France stated that Metula was to be in Palestine, but it was not until 1924 that the change to British control was complete.[11] During the intervening years, the residents of Metula even took part in elections for the Lebanese parliament.[11]

The British Zionist Norman Bentwich wrote in 1919:

"Metullah, the most northern outpost, is acquiring a new function as a summer resort for the rest of the country. Its mountain air and its splendid site, high up above a ravine, down which a stream dashes headlong to Jordan, makes it a chosen place in the dry days, and already its few homesteads are crowded in July and August. Metullah is a summer station for the hardy men and women of the colonies; it lies too far from the high road to attract the tourist, but in course of time it, or some other place in the highland region, will become for the Jewish dwellers of the lowlands what a number of hill stations in the Lebanon are already to the Syrians of the plains." [12]
Nahal Ayyun Bridge

Illegal immigrants passed through here between 1920–1923, when Metullah was used as a transit stop into the British Mandate of Palestine from the French mandatory territory in Syria and Lebanon. The flow of illegal immigrants increased in 1933-34. Often, immigrants were robbed along the way. The residents of Metula hid the newcomers in their homes, and would even stage fictitious weddings, at the end of which all the "celebrants" would be transported in trucks to the center of the country, far from the border.

Defensive positions were located along both sides of the main road, and were part of the settlement's perimeter defence network during the 1936-39 riots. Buildings were made of cement, with rectangular slits. The positions were manned by militia and the men of Metullah, and remained in use up until the War of Independence.[citation needed]

The bridge over Nahal Ayyun was built by the British in the years 1943-44. On June 17, 1946 (Night of the bridges) all four Palmach battalions (the Haganah elite units) captured and destroyed 11 border bridges to prevent enemy forces from entering the country. As a consequence, the British soldiers imprisoned many Yishuv leaders and Palmah members, on June 29, 1946, ("Black Sabbath"). The bridge was blown up again by the Palmach during the War of Independence. The bridge was reconstructed in the 1980s.[citation needed]

History since 1948

Park near Nahal Ayyun

The Safari Disaster transpired in the afternoon of Sunday, March 10, 1985, a convoy of IDF soldiers on their "Safari" model trucks were driving from Metula towards the Lebanese town of Marjayoun. Dozens of soldiers, just returned from Shabat, were on their way to duty. In accordance with regulations, one armed jeep in the forefront and two on the tail, the soldiers were wearing helmets and bullet-proof vests. They were just crossing the narrow bridge over Nahal Ayyun at 13:45, when they noticed on the other side a red Chevrolet pickup truck driving towards them. The soldiers of the first jeep noticed just one driver, smiling friendly. They signaled him to pull over to let the convoy pass. The first jeep and the first safari truck passed, when at 13:50 a tremendous explosion occurred, which shattered windows even back in Metula. The red truck exploded in a huge fireball, and hurled soldiers through the air. Twelve soldiers were killed and 14 wounded in the explosion.

The Good Fence (הגדר הטובה, HaGader HaTova or Fatima Crossing) was a border crossing from Metula to Lebanon opened in 1976 and closed in 2000 after Israel's withdrawal of Lebanon. The border crossing allowed the population of southern Lebanon to find jobs in northern Israel, access health services, attend school in Israel, and transport goods.

Area and population

Ice skating in the Canada Centre

The municipality governs a land area of 2,000 dunams (2 km²). According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), in September 2003 Metula had a population of 1,400, predominantly Jewish. Metula was declared a local council in 1949. Also according to the CBS, the population over the years was:

  • 1948 - 172
  • 1961 - 261
  • 1972 - 333
  • 1983 - 589
  • 1995 - 942
  • 2003 - 1400

Israel's only Olympic-size ice rink is located in a local sports complex. The Canada Centre is home club to most Israeli figure skaters, and it hosts the national championships Israeli Figure Skating Championships whenever they are held. It is called the Canada center because it is funded by Israeli-Canadians.

It also houses a touristic, 4 position firing range.

Geography and climate

Metula with Mount Hermon in the background

Metula is the northernmost town in Israel (although the municipal borders of Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights exceed it), located on the Israel-Lebanon border 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) north of Qiryat Shemona at 520 m above sea level.

The average annual rainfall is 900 mm. Winters are usually cold and wet, with summers being warm and dry. Snowfall occurs every 1-2 of years. The river Nahal Ayoun has its sources in Lebanon, about seven kilometers north of Metula.


  1. ^ "Locality File" (XLS). Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. 2008. Retrieved 2010-06-22. 
  2. ^ a b Claudine Dauphin (1998). La Palestine byzantine, Peuplement et Populations, Vol. III : Catalogue. BAR International Series 726. Oxford: Archeopress. p. 641. 
  3. ^ J. S. Buckingham (1825). Travels among the Arab Tribes inhabiting the countries east of Syria and Palestine .... London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown and Green. p. 407. 
  4. ^ M. V. Guérin (1880). Description géographique, historique et archéologique de la Palestine. Galilée II. Paris. pp. 345–346. 
  5. ^ C. R. Conder ad H. H. Kitchener (1881). The Survey of Western Palestine. 1. London: Palestine Exploration Fund. p. 89. 
  6. ^ Benny Morris, Righteous Victims. First Vintage 2001 edition, p55.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Arieh L. Avneri (1984). The Claim of Dispossession. New Brunswick: Transaction Books. pp. 96–98. ISBN 0878559647. 
  8. ^ Morris, Righteous Victims, p.55.
  9. ^ a b Yosef Gorney (1987). Zionism and the Arabs, 1882-1948: a study of ideology. USA: Oxford University Press. p. 18. ISBN 9780198227212. 
  10. ^ Alan Dowty (2001). ""A Question That Outweighs All Others": Yitzhak Epstein and Zionist Recognition of the Arab Issue". Israel Studies 6: 34–54. 
  11. ^ a b c Gideon Biger (2004). The boundaries of modern Palestine, 1840-1947. Routledge. p. 134. ISBN 9780714656540. 
  12. ^ Norman Bentwich (1919). Palestine of the Jews. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co. p. 96. 


External links

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