Atlit Detainee Camp Museum

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The Atlit Detainee Camp Museum is located in Atlit, a small town located on the northern coast about 20 kilometers south of Haifa. In the 1930s and 40s, this site served as a detention center for illegal Jewish immigrants seeking refuge in Palestine (which is now the State of Israel). The land was under British Mandate and officials let very few Jewish people into the country legally. Tens of thousands of Jewish people were interned here during this time period. Although first-time visitors may not be familiar with this museum, it is very significant site in the history of Israel.

History of the Museum

Courtesy of Jostein Skevik and Israel Tourism
Courtesy of Jostein Skevik and Israel Tourism

Illegal immigrants are known as “ma’apilim”. Before and during World War II, thousands of Jewish people were fleeing their homes trying to escape persecution and concentration camps. Many coming from Europe and northern Africa chose to seek refuge in Palestine, which was under British Mandate. More than 122,000 people came to Israel despite the blockade.

Those who did not have a valid permit to be in the country were detained and placed in camps like the one in Atlit. Some people were in these camps close to one year. The Atlit Detainee Camp was in place until 1945 when Jewish forces broke into the camp, allowing all the detainees to escape.

The site continued to be used for detainment purposes during other conflicts, but it became a national monument in 1987. Today, the museum on the northern coast is designed to educate visitors about the history of illegal immigration in Israel from 1934-1948. Visitors can tour a model of the original camp, including the barracks and the room for disinfecting new detainees. There is also a multimedia exhibit that follows the voyage of the immigrants and a memorial to those who lost their lives trying to come to Israel.

Visiting the Atlit Detainee Camp Museum

Courtesy of Jostein Skevik and Israel Tourism
Courtesy of Jostein Skevik and Israel Tourism

Hours:

Sunday-Thursday: 9 am to 5 pm
Friday: 9 am to 1 pm
Tours can be arranged in Hebrew and English but MUST be arranged in advance. Tours last for about one hour.

Price:

Adults: 32 NIS
Child and Seniors: 27 NIS
Groups: Inquire about price

Directions:
The Atlit Detainee Camp Museum is 15 km south of Haifa and only 3 km north of downtown Atlit. From Haifa by car, take Route 2 south to Route 7110.

To see what else there is to do in the area, check out these tour ideas.

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