The Gush Etzion Museum portrays the history of the Etzion bloc settlements and the struggle to defend them during the Israeli War of Independence.
Gush Etzion is south of Jerusalem and includes the biblical areas of Efrata and Bethlehem. These are the hills where Ruth gathered sheaves from the fields of Boaz and where David watched his father’s sheep.
Gush Etzion was first settled in 1927 by Yemenite Jews, in the settlement of Migdal Eder. The settlement was destroyed in the 1929 Palestinian riots.
In 1935, Shmuel Holtzman settled the village of Kfar Etzion. The settlers of Kfar Etzion left after the 1936 Arab uprising, and the village was destroyed by the Arabs.
For ten days, the kibbutzim held off the Arab forces, but on May 14, Kfar Etzion fell. The Arabs massacred all the inhabitants, except four who managed to escape. The other kibbutzim surrendered, and the settlers were taken prisoner and held for 9 months. In total, the Arabs killed 240 settlers, and another 260 were taken prisoner at this time. The entire area was under Jordanian control until the six day war in 1967.
The Etzion bloc was resettled again after the six day war, and now comprises more settlements and kibbutzim.
The museum is located in Kfar Etzion and has an audio-video presentation of the modern history of Gush Etzion.