Underground Bullet Factory – The Ayalon Institute
The Ayalon Institute is an exciting monument to the underground fighters who struggled for Israeli independence. It's a fascinating site for both children and adults and should definitely be included in your tour of Israel.
A tour of the Ayalon Institute begins with a film on the history of the pre-state period and explains how the kibbutz managed to hide an underground munitions factory from the British Mandate authorities. Climb down secret passageways from the laundry and the bakery, which lead down into the bullet factory. Learn how the bullets were produced and shipped around the country to freedom fighters.
During the 1930s, Jews in British-controlled Palestine began illegally producing and smuggling weapons for the underground groups who fought against the British. They were also preparing to defend the Zionists against the inevitable attacks of the region's Arab armies, in what would eventually become the War of Independence. Guns were relatively easy to produce or smuggle, but obtaining bullets proved more difficult. To solve this problem, the Jews built a model kibbutz, ostensibly for training youth for communal kibbutz life.
Within 22 days, the site included a complete kibbutz – housing, a dining hall, chicken coop, cow barn, workshops, a laundry, a bakery and a vegetable garden. Underneath it all, though, was the munitions factory, hidden from British eyes and ears by the noisy laundry and bakery. Only a few of the kibbutz members were aware of the factory beneath them, despite the fact that the Ayalon Institute was the largest bullet factory in the country at the time. Over 2 million bullets were produced in the two years the factory operated, from 1946 to 1948.
The Ayalon Institute is open daily by appointment only and is located north of the city of Rehovot.