MISHMAR HA-EMEK (Heb. מִשְׁמַר הָעֵמֶק; "Guard of the Valley"), kibbutz on the southwest rim of the *Jezreel Valley, Israel, affiliated with Kibbutz Arẓi ha-Shomer ha-Ẓa'ir. It was founded in 1926 by pioneers from Poland (joined later by immigrants from other countries) as the first Jewish settlement in the area. It soon became a center of the Ha-Shomer ha-Ẓa'ir movement, particularly since the first regional school of the Kibbutz Arẓi network was set up there. In the Israel *War of Independence (1948), Mishmar ha-Emek successfully resisted the first large-scale attack of the Arab "Liberation Army," commanded by Fawzī al-Qāwuqjī, aimed at a breakthrough to Haifa. The attacking Arab forces were eventually thrown back toward *Megiddo and Jenin (April 1948). In 1969, the kibbutz had 700 inhabitants, increasing to 790 in the mid-1990s and 935 in 2002. Its economy was based on intensive and diverse farming, such as field crops, orchards, dairy cattle, and poultry. It also operated a plastics factory for electrical appliances and household goods in partnership with Kibbutz Galed. The Ha-Shomer ha-Ẓa'ir Forest which was planted in the hills near the kibbutz at the end of the 1920s has become part of the Menasheh Forest, the largest in the country. The kibbutz has a local museum.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.