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Literally, the watchman. From the beginning of modern Jewish settlement in Palestine in 1882, the settlers were exposed to attacks by their Arab neighbors. They resisted vigorously, and the Arabs soon realized that they faced a new type of Jew. Unlike their predecessors who had come to Palestine only to pray and die, the new settlers refused to be intimidated by physical threats. Some of these early heroic defenders became legends. They often fought the Arab marauders single-handed. At the same time they learned Arabic, studied Arab ways of thinking and living, and succeeded in establishing friendly relations with their Arab neighbors.

The first organized self-defense group was established in Palestine in 1907. The valor of this group of watchmen, which called itself Hashomer, soon became famous throughout Palestine. Galloping on their thoroughbred horses along the narrow paths of the Galilee mountains and valleys, the Shomrim were romantic figures. They paid a heavy price for their daring. Many of them fell fighting off armed marauders. They were also among the first to establish frontier settlements in Palestine; K’far Giladi in the north was an outstanding example.

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