>  Top Jewish Tour Destinations in Israel   >  1948 Secret Bullet Factory (Machon Ayalon)

“Machon Ayalon” (in Hebrew: Ayalon Institute) was a code name for a secret bullet factory operation in the 1940s. It provided vital ammunition for the Jewish fighting forces in the 1948 Israeli-Arab War. Today, as a museum, the site offers guided tours, presenting the site’s special legacy.

History of Machon Ayalon

Despite their Balfour Declaration, in 1917, the British led a clear anti-Jewish-Zionist policy during their mandate over Palestine. They limited Jewish immigration, the right to purchase land, and the worse – the possibility to arm themselves against Arab attacks and riots. Determined to protect themselves, the Jews plotted a plan. In 1938 they purchased 12 bullet production machines in Poland and shipped them to the port of Beirut and. Four years later, the discretely transported them by train to “Kibbutzim Hill.”

Established in 1932, “Kibbutzim Hill” operated as a center to prepare Jewish pioneer groups for Kibbutz life. Being so, it had several advantages for the operations of the secret factory:

(1) It was already a known operating institution for a different, none militant purpose;

(2) Being on a hill, which was challenging to monitor externally;

(3) The farm’s laundry machine and the train station nearby generated much noise that would disguise the noise of the production machines;

(4) The Jewish-Zionist pioneer groups could provide the labor.

Operation Launched

machon-ayalon-bulletsBeing so in 1945, the Haganah recruited a group of 45 young women and men (“Tsofim Aleph”) who unanimously agreed to the top-secret tasks.  In only three weeks, they dug an underground hall the size of a tennis court, with nearly 2-foot-thick concrete walls. They then lowered the heavy machines inside and installed a laundry and bakery on the surface. Their noise camouflaged the factory’s operation, and their chimneys disguised its smells. The production was done 16 hours every day in two shifts.

To justify the long hours of operating the laundry machine on the surface, the group offered laundry services to other kibbutzim and the people of Rehoboth at attractive costs. Eventually, even the British sent their uniform for laundry at Kibbutzim Hill. Between 1945 and 1948, this group manufactured over two million bullets in the clandestine factory – an average of 40,000 per day. The bullets were smuggled out in false bottoms of milk cans and distributed by the Haganah, mostly among Palmach fighting units. In 1949, after the War of Independence, the Israeli army (the IDF) centralized the ammunition manufacturing. The underground facility went out of use. Only in 1987, after a restoration project, the state opened the site for visits.

Touring Machon Ayalon

Today, the Ayalon Institute operates as a museum and is quite a popular tourist attraction. A devoted staff leads guided group tours through the facility, thrilling the kids when the laundry machine moves and revealing the secret entrance to the underground factory. The tour, which takes about an hour, is both fun and exciting and introduces another dramatic chapter in the Jewish struggle to establish the state of Israel.

Joining a group tour of Machon Ayalon must be prearranged, and it can be combined with a guided day tour of Jaffa, Tel-Aviv, and/or the Shepehela.

Contact us to inquire more about a private tour to Ayalon Institute:

    Related Tours