Ammunition Factory (Ayalon Institute)
A visit to the Ayalon Institute is a must for anyone interested in the history of modern Israel. Located 20 minutes south of Tel Aviv, in the city of Rehovot, this former underground munitions factory was responsible for supplying more than 1 million bullets to Haganah members during the 1948 War of Independence.
From 1946 until 1948, the factory employed 45 men and women daily. The factory was located 8 meters (25 feet) underground and kept secret until after the war. Kibbutz Hill was built on the same land to divert any attention that the factory might otherwise recieve. In order to get a hold of necessary supplies such as copper, factory workers told the British that they were producing kosher lipstick.
This was an extremely high risk operation. Aside from the obvious health concerns and the large possibility of munitions exploding prematurely, the British could easily have raided the factory and arrested those working. To cover up the noise of wielding and heavy machinery, a large washing machine was placed above the factory. Many kibbutz members had no idea what was under their laundry room.
Today the Ayalon Institute serves as a memorial to those worked in the factory, as well as a museum. The tour includes a walk through the Laundry room where it is possible to see the entrance to the secret factory located under the washing machine. Next, visitors can descend into the factory via a 25 foot ladder. In order to understand how much noise the machines made, the guide will turn them on. In the factory visitors will have the opportunity to see the bullet-testing room and radiation room.