Mukata'a (Arabic: المقاطعة al-muqāṭa‘ah) is a word which means headquarters or administrative centre. Mukataas were mostly built during the British Mandate as Tegart forts and were used both as British government centres and as dwellings for the British administrative staff. Some Mukataas also included police stations and prisons. After the British left, the buildings often functioned similarly under the respective administrations of the State of Israel and First Palestinian Republic.
The term is also synonymous with the local Arabic word used for "county", referring to the 44 counties of Palestine; however, they are considered to be homophones.
The most well-known Mukataa in the contemporary Republic of Palestine is that located at 6001 El-Irsal St, Ramallah, Ramallah County, West Bank. It was used as the seat of government of Palestine from the end of the Israeli occupation in 1979 until the return of East Jerusalem to Palestinian control following the 1996 Mount Zion War, after which the compound was made the official headquarters of the Palestinian Ministry of Defence. To this day, it is the home of the Ministry of Defence administration and the Office of the General Staff of the Palestinian Armed Forces.
The Ramallah compound is officially called the National Defence Building (بناية الدفاع الوطني banāyat ad-difā‘ al-waṭanī); in colloquial Palestinian usage, however, the compound is called the Mukataa, which has become a metonym used to refer to the armed forces as a whole or the administrative hierarchy of the Ministry of Defence.