Hanita Forest & Kibbutz Hanita - The Story of Israel

Flowering in Hanita forest. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Hanita Forest occupies an area of over 2,300 dunam (approx 575 acres) across the slopes of the Western Galilee hills at a height of between 100 and 400 meters above sea level.

KKL-JNF acquired the lands of Kibbutz Hanita, which was established as a Tower and Stockade settlement in 1938, and planted a forest around the Lower Hanita site that had served as a way station for the settlement group before they reached the top of the hill where the kibbutz stands today. At the upper end of the forest, which now extends from Hanita all the way down to the township of Shlomi, stands a reconstruction of the tower and stockade site with an adjacent recreation area that is accessible to visitors with limited mobility. An additional picnic site can be found at the lower end of the forest, near Shlomi.

  • How to get there

    The entrance to Hanita Forest is situated some two kilometers past Shlomi on the Shlomi-Hanita road (Route no. 8993).
  • Geographic location-

    Western Galilee and Mount Carmel
  • Area-

  • Special Sites in the Forest-

    Hanita Observation Point, the Tower and Stockade Recreation Area, the Shlomi Recreation Area, Hanita Museum.
  • Facilities-

    Picinic area, Lookout, Marked path, Archeological site, Water.
  • Other sites in the area-

    Goren Park, Adamit Park, Rosh HaNikra
  • Type of parking-

    Accessible parks,Picnic parks
  • Interest-

    Hiking and Walking Tracks,Bicycle track,Lookouts

Projects and Partners Worldwide

Hanita Forest was rehabilitated and developed thanks to contributions from Friends of KKL-JNF worldwide, including Australia and the USA.

Hanit forest. Photo: KKL-JNF Archive

About the forest

Kibbutz Hanita was established in a daring Tower and Stockade operation in response to Arab efforts to frustrate Jewish settlement. On March 20th 1938 the pioneering settlers began the ascent of Mount Hanita and established a base camp on the first night at Lower Hanita, where the reconstructed tower and stockade stands today in the forest. Local Arabs attacked the settlers on that first night, and many more times subsequently, but the community held out nonetheless. After the construction of the road to Upper Hanita (the name “Hanita” appears in Jewish sources with reference to two communities in the Tyre region), the pioneers moved up the hill to their permanent place of settlement.

KKL-JNF planted the forest, which consists mainly of pine trees, around the Lower Hanita site, and the woodland now extends all the way from the kibbutz to the township of Shlomi. At the top end of the forest stands a reconstruction of the tower and stockade site with an adjacent recreation area that is accessible to visitors whose mobility is limited. An additional picnic site can be found at the lower end of the forest beside Shlomi.

Today the Hanita slopes are covered with a variety of conifers, fruit trees and native woodland. In the mid 1990s, after a serious outbreak of Israeli pine bast scale, some 900 dunam (approx 225 acres) of the forest were restored by KKL-JNF, and around 700 dunam of trees were uprooted between 1998 and 2001 to make way for the new neighborhoods of Shlomi. Despite its small size, Hanita Forest is an excellent example of variegated woodland in which natural vegetation is developing in the shade of the conifers.

Throughout the year a variety of geophytes, orchids and annuals bloom in the forest, which also possesses a number of interesting botanical and archeological sites, together with footpaths and roads that lead the visitor to hidden beauty spots.

Redeeming the Land

Land acquisition played a major role in the founding of the Jewish State. In 1938 the British Mandatory Government placed obstacles in the way of land purchase by Jews. In response, Mr. Yosef Ciniglia, then President of KKL-JNF’s Central Committee in Italy, bought the land in northwest Galilee together with his friend Eliezer Winshell . The owners of the land , believing Ciniglia to be a representative of the Catholic Church wishing to found a monastery on the site, sold the property through a Lebanese intermediary, and it was later registered free of charge in the name of KKL-JNF at the Acco Land Registry Office. Yosef Ciniglia recounted the series of events as follows: “In December 1937, Avraham Winshell and his brother Eliezer approached me and asked me to help them acquire over 4,000 dunam of land along the Lebanese border. After consultation with Yosef Weitz and Dr. Granot, I realized that although KKL-JNF was interested in the project it did not have the necessary funds for the purchase, nor was it certain that the Jewish Agency would be prepared to bear the costs involved in settling the land.

“We understood that unless we forced their hand, no decision would be taken and we would not reach the northwestern border. Thanks to the Italian passport I had in those days, I was able to represent myself as a non-Jewish purchaser – though later, after the sale had gone through, the Arab gangs avenged themselves on my Lebanese Arab guide and killed him.” After the founding of the state, Ciniglia busied himself with the Hagana and commercial ties between Israel and Italy. Recently his son David approached KKL-JNF and asked that his father’s story be made known and that a woodland grove be dedicated on Hanita land in commemoration of his life and work.

Hanita Observation Point

This scenic lookout adjacent to the Lebanese border bears the same name as the kibbutz that lies to the south west, and it is accessed by a sign-posted footpath that ascends from the northern gate of the kibbutz. The remains of the ancient settlement Tel al-Marad can be seen on the hill, whose summit provides a magnificent view of the Valley of Tyre and the villages of southern Lebanon. On the northern slope of the hill is a karst cave known as Hanita Cave or the Ladder Cave (Me‘arat Sullam), which is now closed to the public for safety reasons. In the pre-State era this cave served to conceal Palmach members who took part in the attempt to blow up the bridge at Al-Zib. Tools and pottery from the Hellenistic period were found there, together with artifacts that may perhaps date from the Chalcolithic period.

The Tower and Stockade Recreation Area

The site, which is accessible to visitors with restricted movement, includes picnic tables, biological toilets, playground equipment, barbeque sites and a reconstruction of the Hanita tower and stockade.

Shlomi Recreation Area

Located near Shlomi Junction, this site, which includes the Shlomi and Hanita Forest Scenic Lookouts, is provided with picnic tables and running water; it is not, however, disabled-accessible. The Nahal Be’er Footpath inside the forest is suitable for all the family.

Hanita Museum

The museum, which is located on Kibbutz Hanita in an old building once used by the first Jewish settlers at the site (Tel 04-9859677), is divided into three sections: the Archeology Room, which displays artifacts recovered from local ruins, the Tower and Stockade Room, where visitors can view models of communities settled during the Arab Revolt (a short film lasting 18 minutes portrays the settlement of Hanita); and the Nature Room, which contains examples of local flora and fauna.