Located on top of a hill in Rehovot, is one of Israel’s secret facilities which helped them win the independence war (1948). It was fully functional during the 1940’s, and today is serving as a history museum.
The plan to build this institute started in the 1930s, during the British Mandate. The Jewish, in a bid to fight for independence, began planning on how to make machinery, ammunition and guns. Although manufacturing guns doesn’t prove to be that challenging, making bullets for the guns to be effective is a difficult task.
The plan in discuise
To deal with this, some Jewish people came together and agreed to build an ammunition factory just below a kibbutz (an agriculture community which were a very common type of habitat in the early days of Israel). Within the space of one month in 1945, a structure that resembled a kibbutz was completed, and the operation of the factory started immediately.
The factory was about eight meters underground, and its size is not like that of a tennis court. A very sophisticated plan was put into play in order to produce the ammunition required, while at the same time concealing the real purpose of the factory, because of the British. The factory is said to be manufacturing about 40,000 bullets a day. Once the bullets were available, they were smuggled out of the factory and distributed to various places across the country.
The individuals working on this plan, under the leadership of Haganah (a paramilitary organization), worked hard in achieving their aim, so that even the British, during their visits, could not notice the real purpose of this building. Underneath the factory is a testing ground where the quality of the bullets is tested.
One of the fascinating ways they used to not get their cover blown, was to test the bullets at the precise moment when a train was passing by, thereby using the noise of the train as a disguise.
Ayalon Institute as a museum
This went on for three years (until 1948) until its closure. Later on, it was converted to a museum, and made accessible to the public. The Ayalon Institute bullet factory was turned into the Ayalon Museum.
In 1987 the Ayalon Museum has become a Heritage site for both tourists and locals alike. Several breathtaking concepts and creativity were employed when building this underground building, which will surely make your visit a worthwhile one.
From its secret entrance located under a washing machine in the laundry room to the main room where the machines used in producing the bullets are found, the UV radiation room, the packing station, and many more are available for your viewing pleasure. Needless to say, that the machines till today, are functioning well, thanks to Israel’s high level of preserving things.
To make things easier for visitors, an alternate entrance was made, where you’ll go down 25 feet under the ground through a spiral ladder.
Ayalon Institute is a mix of history and science. It shows the rebellious ways of the Jewish people, struggling for Independence. The museum is suitable for all ages.