Negev Brigade Memorial
The Monument to the Negev Brigade (Andartat Hativat HaNegev in Hebrew), known locally as the Andarta, is a monument designed by Dani Karavan in memory of the members of the Palmach Negev Brigade who fell defending Israel during the 1948 Arab Israeli War.
It is located on a small hill east of Be’er Sheva. When we visited it there was a group of soldiers ahead of us that climbed the hill and then sat down in the shade. The feel of the place is stark with sun-bleached brutal concrete twisted and warped, clutching to the dusty top of this barren hill.
The key element is the central tower at the peak of the hill. But set around it are smaller dynamic elements and a small domed structure which is split. This narrow split continues through some of the other structures. Concrete forms bend and flail with rotational energy around the tower, as if whipped up by a desert storm.
The monument was built between 1963 and 1968 at a time when Israel was making many physical memorials to those who fought and died in its wars. It is made of raw concrete consisting of eighteen separate elements.
These elements are symbolic and connected to Palmach and to the War of Independence. The perforated tower alludes to a watchtower shelled with gunfire and the pipeline tunnel is reminiscent of the channel of water in the Negev defended by the soldiers.
Engraved in the concrete are the names of the soldiers who died in the war, the badge of the Palmach, diary passages from the soldiers, the battle registry, verses and songs.
The heavy concrete forms and primary elements – such as the unframed circular tunnel – remind me of various 20th century buildings such as the National Assembly Building for the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, India by Louis Kahn. The concrete is mostly smooth so more Modernist than Brutalist, the harshness conjurs up thoughts of war and strife, this is not a light pretty building!