By Harvey Tobkes
The birthday celebration of Israel becoming a nation is on May 14; today I would like to share memories of our trip to Israel in May of 2000, because as part of our tour we visited Ayalon…

Our guide helped the caretaker to move the above ground giant washing machine, which was on a slide platform, and used to disguise the entrance to a secret factory below that produced bullets during the British Mandate rule of Israel. As we descended 26 feet to the underground factory, we saw the brass and the cartridges, the machinery, we saw the tanning booth, the whole setup just as shown in the YouTube video below.

In 1945, the Haganah determined that at the end of the British Mandate a struggle would ensue between the Jews and Arabs of the land. A decision was made by the Haganah to establish a secret plant. In just three weeks, preparations for the factory were completed and it was code named the Ayalon Institute, a military industry factory in the early pre-state days.

Between 1946-1948, 2.25 million bullets were manufactured here. These were nine-millimeter bullets, for the Sten sub-machine gun, which was the primary personal weapon during the war.

What was not mentioned in the video, was that the above ground lines, which were to all outward appearances used to dry wet laundry, were also antennas, which the Israeli’s used for communications. In addition, the workers meticulously cleaned their shoes when they exited to assure that no brass shavings on the soles would arouse suspicions of the British as to the clandestine munitions factory under their noses, so to speak.

[Photo of me next to cardboard models at the Ayalon Institute, May 2000]

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