The Hebrew name is from the Arabic word for fortress. The British, fearing a German attack from Vichy-controlled Syria, fortified the hill during World War II. In 1948 the Syrians made this strategic point the command post for their invasion of Israel. In accordance with the 1949 armistice agreement Syria withdrew two kilometres eastward up the Golan Heights, and several month’s later soldiers of the Nachal Brigade established the kibbutz.
For two years Tel Katzir’s members farmed the land side by side with Syrian Arabs, with some property jointly owned and intermittently cultivated by Arabs and Jews. In 1951 Syria expelled the Arab farmers and replaced them with military personnel. The Syrian army built fortifications, introduced artillery and tanks, and began firing on the kibbutz and mining its fields. Incidents were so frequent that the Jewish farmers were forced to work the land under close military cover. The kibbutz children slept in shelters, and in the morning collected bomb fragments the way children in other places collected baseball cards. Tel Katzir became a symbol of dedication to the Land of Israel despite military threat.
A month before the Six Day War the Syrian army, in preparation for their planned invasion of Israel, began building a road from the plateau down to the border. On the fifth day of the war the Israeli Army attacked the artillery positions that had been firing on the kibbutz for the previous four days. Preceded by bulldozers, tank units advanced up the unfinished road. The road is visible from the observation point inside the kibbutz.
After the war the kibbutz members climbed up to inspect the bunkers that had menaced them for 18 years, and saw their homes for the first time as they had appeared to the Syrians. Drawings of the kibbutz made by Syrian soldiers and left behind in the bunkers are on display in the museum.
A short quiet interlude followed the Six Day War. 1968 marked the beginning of two years of attacks by the Jordanian army. After the September 1970 war between King Hussein and the PLO, calm returned. Today the kibbutz has about 150 members. Its income is derived from agriculture, light industry, and tourism.