Imagine building a clandestine ammunition
factory, right under the nose of the British.
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.
this appeared to be no more than a kibbutz. Eight
meters below ground things were quite different;
this was actually the largest bullet factory,
where 45 people worked. 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. The bullets were embossed with the
letters EA, E for Eretz Israel and A for Ayalon.
At the height of operations, 40,000 bullets a day
were made at the institute. It has been said that
the bullets manufactured at the Ayalon Institute
constituted the only supply that was not in
shortage during the war.
The necessary manufacturing machines were
lowered into the factory through an opening, which
was concealed by a huge 10-ton baking oven (there
was a working bakery here). The entrance stairs,
used by workers to get to and from the factory was
covered by a large washing machine that revolved
on a pivot (see photo). The ‘kibbutz members’ also
operated a commercial laundry. It is perhaps
ironic that British officials stationed in nearby
Rehovot used to bring their uniforms to be
laundered in a place that concealed the
clandestine arms factory.
When you tour the institute, you can actually
go down the stairs and see the manufacturing area.
Visits require a reservation, as you can only
visit as part of a tour (just be sure to mention
that you want an English tour when you call).
There is also an audiovisual program, in English.
There is an interesting story about how copper,
the raw material that was needed, was obtained.
Applications for import licenses were submitted to
the authorities. When asked why so much copper was
needed the explanation was given that it would be
used to make lipstick cases. The explanation
seemed plausible and the import licenses were
There is no doubt that the efforts of the
Haganah members who worked here under harsh
conditions played a crucial role in the success of
the War of Independence; David Ben Gurion termed
their efforts as heroic.
The institute is situated on Kibbutzim Hill,
which got its name from the groups of pioneers
that trained here, from 1932-1942. These people
would later go on to establish kibbutzim through
out the country and came to this place to gain
experience in the ways of daily life on a
SPECIAL NOTE: You MUST call ahead for
reservations. For group visits, send a fax, which
will be confirmed by return fax.
Directions: The Ayalon Institute is located on
the northern outskirts of Rehovot, at Kibbutzim
Hill near Science Park (Kiryat Hamada). From Route
# 412 turn into Science Park (just before the
entrance to Rehovot). Go 2 traffic lights and turn left onto Holtzman,
up the hill where you can park the car.
Visiting Hours: Sunday-Thursday 8:00 AM- 4:00
PM (last tour is at 3:00 PM), Friday and holiday
eves, 8:30 AM-12:00 PM (last tour is at 11:00 AM,
Saturday 9:00 AM-4:00 every hour (on the hour)
Entry fees apply.